Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told a gathering of business leaders this week that he personally killed criminal suspects as a mayor of Davao City.
Attendees of the Wallace Business Forum in Manila on Monday got more than they bargained for during a speech by Mr. Duterte, who has encouraged vigilante killings of suspected drug dealers since his May 9 election. The 71-year-old, who has said “son of a b-h” journalists are fair game for assassination, detailed how he would “patrol the streets” on a motorcycle.
“In Davao, I used to do it personally,’ Mr. Duterte said, CNN reported Wednesday. “Just to show the guys that, if I can do it, why can’t you? And [I’d] go around Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around and I would just patrol the streets and looking for trouble also. I was really looking for an encounter so I could kill.”
The president’s comments lend further credence to claims by hitman Edgar Matobato, who said he witnessed Mr. Duterte kill a National Bureau of Investigation official. The accusations were made in September in response to a Senate inquiry.
The investigation was quashed in October when the committee’s head, Sen. Leila De Lima, was removed from her post.
Mr. Duterte previously defended his support for vigilante killings using the rationale that “most of those killed, to be frank, have done something,” Agence France Press said, The Washington Times reported on May 31. “You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong. The constitution can no longer help you if you disrespect a person.”