The Philippines’ justice secretary says President Rodrigo Duterte has exaggerated by saying he used to kill criminals himself when he was a mayor to send a chilling warning to offenders.
Duterte said in a speech on December 12 that he used to patrol the southern city of Davao as mayor on a big motorcycle to look for lawbreakers to kill.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Wednesday that Duterte may have been resorting to hyperbole in his recent speech.
He added that the president sought to make policemen take him as a role model.
Duterte, a former crime-busting mayor of Davao, won the presidency in May after campaigning almost entirely on promises to wipe out drugs and crime.
Nearly 2,300 people have been killed in the campaign against drugs since it started on June 30, according to police, of which 1,566 were drug suspects killed in security operations.
Duterte said on September 19 that he needs six more months for his ongoing war on drugs, adding that there are too many people involved in the narcotic trade and that he “cannot kill them all.”
Civil rights campaigners have criticized Philippine police operations amid concerns that some of the dead suspects may have been summarily executed by law enforcement officers.
Human Rights Watch has said the Philippines needs an “independent” investigation into whether President Duterte has had a role in extrajudicial killings.
Duterte has dismissed the criticism of his drug crackdown, threatening to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations.