Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly threatened to throw corrupt officials out of a helicopter in the same manner he did a Chinese man suspected of rape and murder years ago.
Although he later described his threat as a joke in an interview with CNN, Duterte’s administration had already admitted to the news network that the president had actually carried out the helicopter killing.
The Washington Post (WaPo) reports:
Duterte first made the claim during a speech on a northern island that had been hit by a deadly typhoon.
He announced that he was going to provide millions of dollars in aid to the victims, the Philippine Star reported, then changed the subject to the campaign against drugs and corruption that fueled his rise to power.
Duterte’s most recent shocking confession is not unprecedented.
As the man behind the drug war that has killed thousands, the Filipino leader has boasted about his bloody reputation, calling himself more brutal than the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadist group and claiming last month that he executed several criminals during the 22 years he spent as mayor of Davao City, in the south of the country.
As in the past, his administration quickly dismissed Duterte’s recent confession that he threw a man out of a helicopter as hyperbole.
“If you are corrupt, I will fetch you using a helicopter to Manila and I will throw you out,” Duterte reportedly said in a threat that won applause from a crowd of typhoon survivors in the Camarines Sur province on Tuesday. “I have done this before, why would I not do it again?”
“I’ll throw you at a low altitude, not that high, because in the length of the fall you may be able to develop wings, just at the right [altitude] so the impact of your crash won’t be heard,” he added.
A spokesman for Duterte described the alleged incident as an “urban legend.”
Two days after threatening to toss corrupt officials out of a helicopter, the Philippine president told CNN he was just kidding.
“We had no helicopter; we don’t use that,” he declared, calling the literal interpretation of his early allegation “creative imagination.”
“I am playing you… your team knows I really want to say jokes,” also said Duterte.
Nevertheless, his comments have prompted condemnation from the international community and created tensions with the United Nations and the United States, which the Philippine president has accused of trying to destabilize and ultimately overthrow his administration.
President Barack Obama’s State Department has dismissed the allegations as “false.”
To the ire of Duterte, the Obama administration has repeatedly denounced what the international community deems extrajudicial killings at the behest of the Philippine leader who believes killing criminals is not a crime.
On Thursday, Duterte denounced U.S. ambassadors as “spies” in response to an article published by the Manila Times on Tuesday that highlights an alleged American plot to overthrow the Filipino president.
The Manila Times reports, “In brief, the plan calls on the US government to employ a combination of socio-economic-political-diplomatic moves against Duterte ‘to bring him to his knees and eventually remove him from office.’
Since Duterte took office on June 30, more than 6,000 people have been killed as a result of his anti-drug campaign.
“Some were gunned down during encounters with police who were acting under the government’s orders, while others were killed by unknown vigilantes,” notes WaPo.
Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights chief, has urged the Philippine courts to launch a murder investigation of Duterte who has “openly admitted to being a killer.”
“The president’s past extreme comments against suspected drug pushers and corrupt officials have left many wondering if he was exaggerating, and administration officials have said he often uses hyperbole as a scare tactic,” it adds.
Duterte said the primary goal of his drug war is to eradicate the Philippines’s massive drug problems “to preserve the interest of the next generation.”
“If you destroy my country, I’ll kill you. That’s a legitimate thing,” declared the Philippine president. “If you destroy our young children, I will kill you. That is a very correct statement.”