President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has threatened corrupt government officials with the prospect of being thrown out of a helicopter, warning he has done it himself before.
The former prosecutor said he once hurled a Chinese man suspected of rape and murder out of a helicopter.
“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 said during a speech to victims of a typhoon on Tuesday, a clip of which was posted on a video feed of the president’s office.
He later appeared to attempt to row back on the claim, telling CNN: “We had no helicopter. We don’t use that”. He described the incident as “just the creative imagination of this Tulfo,” without explaining what a Tulfo was.
It comes 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 in the capital of more than half a tonne of methamphetamine, known locally as “shabu”, 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, also suggested it may not have actually happened. “Let’s just say, urban legend,” Abella said, without elaborating.
The United Nations’ top human rights envoy has called for an investigation into Duterte’s claims of killing people, to which Duterte last week responded by calling him “stupid”, an “idiot” and a “son of a bitch” who should go back to school.