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Duterte: ‘I killed only to protect people’

/ 01:36 AM December 18, 2016
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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte RENE LUMAWAG/Presidential Photo

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said that if he had killed criminals when he was mayor it was only to protect law-abiding people, but he insisted he wasn’t involved in summary executions.

In a press briefing in Davao City on his arrival from state visits to Cambodia and Singapore, Mr. Duterte said the killings happened during armed encounters.

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“You are pictured to be a killer. So? At least I killed to protect people. I am not here a dictator killing my political opponents to stay in power,” he said.

He recalled that early in his term as Davao City mayor, he joined an operation to rescue a woman who had been kidnapped and a gunfight ensued. When he saw the kidnappers coming back, he fired his M16 rifle.

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“Not extrajudicial, there was a firefight,” he said. “I might have hit them all or none at all. But the fact is I was there and I fired at them.”

He described himself as “a mayor that cannot tolerate oppression of civilians.”

Asked how many people he had killed, he replied “maybe one, two, three.”

“I’m saying maybe my bullets hit them, maybe not but after the broom-boom-boom, they’re all dead,” he said.

While his statements on Saturday made room for the possibility that he might not have killed suspected criminals, Mr. Duterte’s earlier admission about killing was more categorical.

He told a gathering of Filipinos in Singapore that he had killed three people involved in the hostage-taking and killing of an Australian missionary. He also said television news headlines saying he had admitted killing or shooting criminals “were not mistaken.”

The 6,500-strong crowd cheered as Duterte used his trademark strong language to promise his drug war would continue.

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In a meeting with business leaders in Malacañang last week, he also said he personally killed crime suspects when he was mayor.

Defending his administration’s war on drugs that has left nearly 6,000 people dead since July 1, Mr. Duterte vowed to terminate all drug dealers.

“If you deprive us of the next generation of Filipinos, our children, our grandchildren, same, I’ll kill you. And that is the order to the police and the military,” he said.

“Do not be so much fascinated by life because we are in a stress right now,” he said, addressing soldiers and police. “Go and destroy the apparatus. That is the only way how to end and to do justice to the 4 million now who are suffering in agony and pain.”

Mr. Duterte said he had already asked God for forgiveness “for all my sins and the future sins that I will commit” in eliminating “human monsters.”

He might not have time to say his prayers if he is assassinated, he explained.

“So just to be on the safe side, ‘God forgive me for killing these idiots. If they are your creation anyway, so that is also your problem,’” he said. “So if you are God, why do you have to create these idiots? That’s why they die. God should have created law-abiding citizens like us.” —WITH REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE, AFP

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