“When I was a teenager, I went home and got out of prison. I was in bastons here, bastons there, “the Filipino president said on the evening of November 9 in a defensive speech to promote his war on drugs ahead of a summit of world leaders in Manila. He is in Danang, Vietnam, on the occasion of the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Forum, where he will also meet Vladimir Putin.
“At 16, I had already killed someone. A real person, a fight, stabbing. I was only 16 years old. It was for a simple look. How much more now that I am president? “Asked the president in front of the Filipino community of Danang.
In these statements, Rodrigo Duterte also threatened to “slap” Agnès Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions. To conclude, he described as “son of a bitch” those who criticize his campaign of repression of drug trafficking.
Rodrigo Duterte, 72, was elected in 2016 after promising to eradicate drug trafficking by shooting up to 100,000 suspected drug traffickers and drug abusers.
Since coming to power 16 months ago, police have reported killing 3,967 people. Unknown persons have killed 2,290 suspects in drug cases. Thousands of others have been shot in unspecified circumstances, according to police figures.
The president remains very popular in the archipelago, where many Filipinos feel that security has improved.
Esquire magazine had published an interview with Rodrigo Duterte, who was not then president, in which he said he “maybe” stabbed someone to death at the age of 17. This was probably a reference to the incident described in Danang.
The Filipino leader’s entourage frequently asks journalists not to take it literally, pointing out that he likes to joke and that he is a fan of “hyperbole”.
His new spokesperson, Harry Roque, explained that his new statements could also be exaggerated. “I think it was a joke. The president always uses flowery language when he is with Pinoys [Filipinos] abroad, “he told AFP.
Rodrigo Duterte welcomes a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next week, which will be attended by US President Donald Trump. The US President also praised the anti-drug policy of his Philippine counterpart in April, greeting in a telephone exchange his “incredible work on the drug problem.”