MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday Filipinos should "stab" fraudsters who use his name and the names of other cabinet officials for corrupt purposes.
Corruption is, with red tape, an obstacle to the Southeast Asian nation's competitiveness, deterring investors and delaying much-needed projects.
Duterte warned against dealing with people who use his name or those of other senior government officials to try to secure business contracts and accelerate the processing of documents.
Describing such fraudsters as "parasites" and "leeches" preying on the naïve, he offered advice for victims in a televised weekly address that provides updates on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Just stab them. Do not shoot because it's noisy and you can easily get caught," Duterte said.
His comments are likely to upset human rights groups and government critics.
Duterte is not eligible for re-election when his six-year term ends, but fulfilling his campaign pledge on corruption could boost the chances of his chosen successor in the 2022 elections.
Thousands of suspected drug dealers have been killed in Duterte's signature anti-narcotics campaign, and Duterte has consistently enjoyed high approval and trust ratings even though his statements on violence and killings have upset rights groups and the opposition.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque did not respond to a request for comment past office hours. Spokesmen for Duterte have previously said the president is used to using colorful language, hyperbole or jokes.