Duterte Says He Killed Three Kidnappers in 1988 to Save Hostage

  • Philippine leader says ‘at least’ he kills to protect people
  • President denies he’s addicted to potent painkiller Fentanyl

Rodrigo Duterte.

Photographer: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he killed three kidnappers in 1988 when he was  Davao City mayor to save a woman hostage.

“There were three of them; I didn’t really know how many bullets from my gun went through inside their bodies,” Duterte told reporters in Singapore Friday evening before his flight back home, according to a transcript e-mailed by his office. “They were not suspects. Those are people who dared to fight the law. And because I had an M16, I carried one because Davao was then a wild country, I had to restore order and I took the bull by the horns,” he said at a televised briefing Saturday in Davao City.

After thousands of deaths in his drug war, Duterte said his government won’t hesitate to keep on eliminating those resisting arrest until he has rid the streets of illegal substances in a country with, by his own estimates, 4 million addicts. The president, who admitted on Dec. 12 that he takes Fentanyl -- a potent opioid medication -- to relieve him of his daily migraines and spinal pains, denied that he is addicted.

Being a self-confessed killer doesn’t make him unfit to be president, Duterte said. What he had done was justified “given the problems of my country.”

“At least I killed to protect people,” Duterte said. “I am not a dictator, killing my political opponents to stay in power.”

— With assistance by Clarissa Batino

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