Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte bragged to a crowd of business leaders that he used to personally kill suspected criminals in order to set a brutal example for his police officers.
Duterte made the shocking comments during a speech held late Monday about his ruthless anti-drug campaign, which has led to cops and vigilante death squads killing thousands of people since he came to power on June 30.
After praising police for killing suspects in the current drug war, Duterte recalled carrying out similar acts while serving as the mayor of Davao, a southern city he ruled for nearly two decades.
“In Davao I used to do it personally,” he said during his speech held at the presidential palace in Manilla. “Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it, why can’t you?”
Duterte added he used to ride around the city on a motorcycle “looking for trouble.”
“I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill,” he said.
Human rights groups have previously accused Duterte of spearheading death squads that killed at least 1,000 people in Davao — accusations he has both denied and acknowledged.
“If they say that I am afraid to stop because of the human rights and guys…including Obama: sorry I am not about to do that,” he said in English during the speech.
Duterte has become infamous for profanity-laced tirades against western countries criticizing him over his brutal drug crackdown.
He made international headlines in October for comparing himself to Adolf Hitler and saying he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts.
Since Duterte’s election, some 5,000 people have died in anti-drug raids. He has insisted that cops are only killing in self-defense, but human rights groups have issued several reports about police working alongside civilian assassins.
The ruthless Filipino leader said last month that President-elect Donald Trump praised his controversial war on drugs during a congratulatory post-election phone call.
Duterte — who has fittingly been nicknamed “Philippine Trump” — said the soon-to-be U.S. commander-in-chief told him he was on “the right way” before extending an invite to the White House.