MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte clarified Thursday that he did not throw people off helicopters, contrary to his statement during a speech to victims of typhoon "Nina" earlier this week.
Duterte on Tuesday threatened corrupt government officials with the prospect of being thrown out of a helicopter mid-air, warning he has done it himself before and had no qualms about doing it again.
"If you are corrupt, I will fetch you using a helicopter to Manila and I will throw you out. I have done this before, why would I not do it again?" Duterte earlier said.
But in a one on one interview with ABS-CBN News' Lynda Jumilla, Duterte disowned the story.
"'Yung hinulog sa helicopter, hindi totoo yan... Wala naman akong helicopter para hulugan ng tao," Duterte said.
(It's not true that I threw people off helicopters. I do not own a helicopter to be able to do that.)
"Kung totoo man yan, hindi ko aaminin," Duterte added.
(If it were true, I won't admit it.)
Duterte's "helicopter" threat comes just a few weeks after he admitted killing people during his 22 years as a mayor of Davao City, sometimes riding a motorcycle looking for "encounters to kill."
He said those killings were part of legitimate police operations, including a hostage incident. Some senators have warned Duterte he risks impeachment over his comments.
Duterte also said six people arrested last week during a seizure of more than half a ton of methamphetamine, known locally as "shabu", in the capital were fortunate he was out of town.
"They were lucky I was not in Manila that time. If I had known there were that much shabu inside a house, I would definitely kill you," he said.
"Let's not make any drama, I will personally gun you down if nobody else will do it."
It was not immediately clear when or where the helicopter incident Duterte spoke of took place. His spokesman, Ernesto Abella, suggested it may not have actually happened.
"Let's just say, 'urban legend'," Abella told reporters, without elaborating.
The United Nations' top human rights envoy has called for an investigation into Duterte's claims of killing people, to which Duterte responded by calling him "stupid" and "idiot."