MANILA - After years of claiming he has killed lots of criminals and drug personalities, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday backtracked on his previous remarks, saying he hasn't taken the life of anyone.
He made the claim in a public briefing Monday, responding to his critics' accusations that he and his allies are not following the law they were enforcing themselves.
"Marami nagsasabi, 'Rule of law, di ka naman sumusunod, marami kang pinapatay.' Wala ho akong pinatay na tao. And I never, never... magtanong ka ng isang pulis dito sa Pilipinas, magtanong ka kay (Interior) Secretary Año sa DILG, magtanong ka kay (Defense Secretary) Delfin Lorenzana kung may inutusan ba akong tao na sinabi, 'Patayin mo tong si Mr. Edmundo Santos o patayin mo 'to si Juan dela Cruz.'"
(Many say, 'Rule of law, you yourself don't follow, you're killing lots of people.' I have never killed anyone. And I never, never... you ask one policeman here in the Philippines, you ask Secretary Año of DILG, you ask Delfin Lorenzana if I ordered someone and said, 'Kill Mr. Edmundo Santos or kill this Juan dela Cruz.)
"I never do that."
Duterte admitted in multiple speeches he has killed suspected criminals.
Months after he assumed the presidency in June 2016, Duterte boasted he "personally" killed them while serving as mayor of Davao City for 23 years.
"In Davao, I used to do it personally, just to show to the (police) that if I can do it, why can't you?" he told a business gathering.
Even before becoming president, Duterte said he actively participated in the execution of several criminals in Davao ever since he was elected mayor.
Duterte is known for preaching a tough stance on criminality and illegal drugs.
Local and international human rights advocates have condemned Duterte's brutal drug war and the high number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The UN Human Rights Office earlier said in a report that the Duterte administration's stance on addressing national security threats and illegal drugs has led to serious human rights violations, including the killing of over 8,000 people during the government's drug war, based on official figures.
The murder of nearly 250 human rights defenders, legal professionals, journalists and trade unionists in connection with their work were also linked to the government. Dissenters have been vilified or arbitrarily arrested and detained, according to the report.
Because of the "failure of domestic mechanisms to ensure accountability," the UN report emphasized there is a need for "independent, impartial, credible investigations into all allegations of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law."
Malacañang has dismissed the claims.