With files from the Associated Press
While addressing an official anti-communist taskforce on Friday, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte defended himself against claims of corruption – but said he’s working on his other faults, including “extrajudicial killings.”
“Faults? Me? Plenty. But I don’t steal money,” Duterte said on Friday as he reviewed his own record as the country’s leader. “I just have cases of extrajudicial killings. We will get there,” he added.
Duterte conceded that the “government is not perfect” as he addressed members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Eclac), which itself has been accused of employing brutal tactics in defeating the country’s communist rebels.
The president, echoing orders previously delivered to the security forces, said: “Kill them, kill them… Finish them off,” adding “but do return their bodies to their families.”
Turning his focus to the communist rebels themselves, Duterte proclaimed, “you are all bandits. You don’t have an ideology.” He said communist dogma is effectively extinct and that Russia and China have both adopted capitalism.
Duterte also addressed corruption allegations earlier in the week after it was suggested that the government had siphoned off money supposedly used to purchase vaccines. Senator Panfilo Lacson said that the Philippines had paid over the odds for a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine and suggested some of the public funds would end up in the pockets of Filipino leaders.
Responding to the claim, Duterte claimed it hurt him personally and insisted there was no corruption involved, while reminding people not to make false allegations.
In December, Duterte made the bold offer to resign if anyone could prove he accepted bribes while in office, but caveated his proposal by threatening to kill anyone guilty of concocting a story.