Philippines' Duterte says he personally killed people

Manila, NCR, PhilippinesUpdated: Dec 14, 2016, 08:01 AM IST

The comments were made in a speech to businessmen late Monday night as he discussed his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs. Photograph:(Reuters)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he personally killed suspected criminals while he was the mayor of a southern city in order to set an example for police. 

Duterte made the revelation in a speech late on Monday night to businessmen while discussing his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs.

Duterte’s “war on drugs” has seen police and unknown assailants kill thousands since he came to power in June.

After speaking about policing killing suspected criminal in the ongoing crime war, Duterte said he led similar efforts when he was the mayor of Davao.

"In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it why can't you," Duterte said in his speech at the presidential palace, news agency AFP reported.

"And I'd go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill."

Responding to criticism from human rights groups and US President Barack Obama about his brutal tactics and vowing to continue his crackdown,

Duterte said,"If they say that I am afraid to stop (the campaign) because of the human rights and guys from including Obama: Sorry, I am not about to do that," he said in English.

Rights groups had earlier accused Duterte of running vigilante death squads in Davao that killed more than 1,000 suspected criminals.

Duterte has denied and acknowledged his involvement in the death squads variously.

As president, Duterte has called on ordinary citizens  as well as security forces to kill drug users and traffickers. But he has also added that he and his security forces would not break the law.

Police have reported killing 2,086 people in anti-drug operations since Duterte became president. 

According to official figures, more than 3,000 others have been killed in unexplained circumstances.

(WION with inputs from AFP)