Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte twice claimed to have personally killed drug suspects as mayor of Davao City this week, claiming at two different events that he enjoyed getting on his motorcycle and “looking for a confrontation.”
On Tuesday, he followed up those comments by stating emphatically, “I am not a killer.”
“I do not relish or enjoy (seeing) a Filipino sprawled there with all the blood,” Duterte told his audience at the 2016 Outstanding Young Men and Women awards at Malacañang, the Philippine presidential palace, according to the Philippine Star. At the same event, he insisted that any dead bodies found of drug suspects who appeared to be tied up or tortured were not killed by police. While Duterte has repeatedly encouraged both police and civilians to kill drug crime suspects should they encounter them, he said he does not condone torture.
“Corpses found with the heads or bodies wrapped in plastic and packing tape – what he described as ‘balot-balot’ – are not the handiwork of his government, he stressed,” the Star reports, quoting him as telling the audience, “We don’t make mummies. This is not Egypt.”
These remarks are in stark contrast to his boasting about having killed drug suspects personally during his two-decade tenure as the mayor of southern Davao, a city his supporters credit him with saving from the crime spree otherwise engulfing Mindanao, one of the Philippines’ poorer islands.
On Tuesday, speaking in Cambodia, Duterte said that he would “sometimes go along with” police in Davao and shoot suspects, admitting, “I was closing my eyes because I am scared of firing a gun.”
“In Davao I used to do it personally,” Duterte said on Monday of killing drug suspects, “Just to show to the guys [police] that if I can do it why can’t you?”
“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,” he told the audience at the Wallace Business Forum in Manila. He took the opportunity to also discuss his medical record in detail, complaining of having “this migraine every day” following what sounds like a concussive injury: “I hit my head on the cement.”
It was not the first time Duterte used a business conference to talk about his medical background and killing people. In April, while still a presidential candidate, Duterte discussed his use of Viagra in front of business leaders in Manila. “I was separated from my wife. I’m not impotent… when I take Viagra, it stands up,” he told a confused audience. In later statements that day, Duterte threatened all criminals: “I will kill you” and promised “1,000 pardons a day” for police who kill drug suspects.
Following his health comments, senior Philippine officials dispelled concerns that he required medical attention, referring to Duterte as “super healthy” and “in the pink of health.”
“Whatever pains he’s experiencing, is basically, as the doctors would say, ‘Wear and tear’. So nothing to be afraid about, nothing to be concerned about. He’s doing fine,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Wednesday.