On Monday, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced he had killed suspected criminals himself while serving as mayor of his hometown of Davao. Duterte went on to explain how he did so while riding around Davao on his motorcycle, and as he put it, “Looking for trouble.”
Duterte made the admission while discussing his controversial policy to eradicate the country of criminals and deal with the drug war. Since he took office on June 30, police and unidentified assailants have killed approximately 5,000 people reportedly tied to the country’s drug war. Duterte has not been shy in admitting his distaste for this group, and his announcement on Monday reflected as much. Nicknamed Duterte Harry (after Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character) in his hometown, Duterte said he killed people as mayor in order to show people it was fine to do:
“In Davao, I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police officers] that if I can do it, why can’t you. And 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.”
His frankness suggests the country has actually employed the oft-rumored death squads to deal with criminals in the country, as he was coy about admitting to them in the past. He has also repeatedly urged civilians to kill criminals, although The Guardian notes that Duterte said his administration will not break the law. His unorthodox methods have earned criticism across the globe, and a recent phone call to president-elect Trump is only complicating matters.