Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte has revealed he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao.
It is the first such admission Rodrigo Duterte has made since becoming president in June, but echoes comments he made in 2015.
Rodrigo Duterte ran Davao for two decades, earning a reputation for cutting crime, and criticism for allegedly supporting death squads.
He was speaking to business leaders at the presidential palace on December 12, before an overseas trip.
Rodrigo Duterte said during the meeting: “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.
“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.”
In 2015, he admitted killing at least three men suspected of kidnapping and rape in Davao.
Rodrigo Duterte’s comments have been condemned by human rights group Amnesty International, which has called on him to put an immediate end to the killings.
Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International director for South East Asia and the Pacific said: “The climate of impunity in the Philippines has intensified even further since President Duterte began his brutal crackdown on suspected drug users and dealers in July, with a wave of unlawful killings claiming more than 5,000 lives across the country.
“By boasting about the blood on his own hands, President Duterte will further embolden police and vigilantes to blatantly violate laws and carry out more extrajudicial executions without fear of being held to account.”
Just hours before Rodrigo Duterte’s latest remarks, he insisted “I am not a killer”, in a speech for The Outstanding Filipino Awards 2016. He has also previously both acknowledged and denied being involved with death squads.
In September a Senate inquiry heard testimony from a self-confessed former death squad member that Rodrigo Duterte had, while serving as Davao mayor, shot dead a justice department agent with an Uzi submachine gun.
Nearly 6,000 people are said to have been killed by police, vigilantes and mercenaries since Rodrigo Duterte launched his drug war after being elected in May.
Rodrigo Duterte has expressed few regrets about the policy, once saying: “Hitler massacred three million Jews… There’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
Some human rights lawyers believe Rodrigo Duterte’s open support for a shoot-to-kill policy by the police could make him vulnerable to prosecution for crimes against humanity at the international court.