Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte tells Apec summit he killed someone aged 16 and threatens to slap UN official
Duterte’s aides have repeatedly told journalists not to believe everything the president says, cautioning that he often jokes or indulges in ‘hyperbole’
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he stabbed a person to death as a teenager, in a defiant speech to promote his drug war ahead of a summit of world leaders in Manila.
Speaking to the local Filipino community in the Vietnamese city of Danang on Thursday, Duterte also offered to host a summit on human rights and threatened to slap a UN rapporteur if he met her.
“When I was a teenager, I would go in and out of jail. I’d have rumbles here, rumbles there,” said Duterte, who is in Danang for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.
“At the age of 16, I already killed someone. A real person, a rumble, a stabbing. I was just 16 years old. It was just over a look. How much more now that I am president?”
Duterte won last year’s presidential elections after promising to eradicate illegal drugs with an unprecedented crackdown that would see up to 100,000 people killed.
Since he took office 16 months ago, police say they have killed 3,967 people in the crackdown. Another 2,290 people were murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.
Duterte, 72, remains popular with many Filipinos who believe he is making society safer. But critics at home and abroad warn that he is orchestrating a campaign of extrajudicial mass murder, carried out by corrupt police and hired vigilantes. Duterte denies the allegations.
The firebrand leader consistently generates headlines for his abusive language and incendiary comments defending the drug war.
Duterte said last year he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million drug addicts and branded then US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore” for criticising the drug war.
Duterte also said in December last year that he had personally shot dead criminal suspects when he was mayor of southern Davao city to set an example to police. His spokesman later sought to clarify the remarks, saying those killings were during a “legitimate police action”.
Esquire magazine quoted Duterte as saying in an interview before he became president that he “maybe” stabbed someone to death when he was 17 years old, in what may be a reference to the incident described in Danang.
Duterte’s aides have repeatedly told journalists not to believe everything the president says, cautioning that he often jokes or indulges in “hyperbole”.
Duterte also said his country was willing to host a “world summit” to tackle how nations can protect human rights. He said the summit should focus on human rights violations not just in the Philippines but globally.
“Let’s have a summit of how we can protect human rights for all human race,” Duterte said soon after meeting with the Filipino community in Vietnam, where he also renewed his attacks against United Nations human rights expert Agnes Callamard.
“What makes the death of people in the Philippines more important than the rest of the children in the world that were massacred and killed?”
Duterte said all victims of human rights violations would be welcome to attend the summit and air their grievances.
Duterte reiterated his threat to slap Callamard if she investigates him for the rising death toll in his war on drugs and would ask her why she has made no comments on the victims of bombings and violence in the Middle East.
“I will slap her in front of you. Why? Because you are insulting me. Why? Because you yourself do not believe in the research of your own organisation,” Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying.
“Why are you so fascinated with drugs?”
Duterte also threatened to ban two American lawmakers from coming to Manila after they criticised US President Donald Trump for inviting him to visit the United States.
“If you do not like me, I do not like you. We’re even,” he said without naming the lawmakers. Democrat James McGovern and Republican Randy Hultgren had called on Trump to highlight the human rights situation in the Philippines in his upcoming visit to Manila.
“I will tell them, you are too presumptuous. What made you think that I am even planning or thinking about visiting your country?”
Additional reporting by Reuters