President Duterte made the astonishing claim today (Thursday, November 9) that he stabbed somebody to death when he was 16 years old.
Speaking to an audience of expatriate Filipinos in Da Nang, Vietnam, the president’s apparent confession was intended to prove that he had no fear of imprisonment.
“Jail? Jeez,” he said. “When I was a teenager, I was in and out of jail. One fight there, another here – at the age of 16, I killed someone.
“A person. During a fight. Stabbing. I was 16. Just because we looked at each other.” His words, while delivered in deadpan style, drew a laugh from his audience.
[His words, spoken in Filipino, can be heard 33 minutes into the video of the speech below]
In previous speeches the president has claimed that he once threw somebody out of a helicopter and would personally kill criminals when Mayor of Davao. Such comments are generally dismissed as “hyperbole” or humour by his official spokespeople.
As for his behaviour as a youth, past interviews with friends and relations have painted a picture of a boisterous young man prone to picking fights and hanging around with a tough crowd.
He has also claimed that as a San Beda law student, he shot and injured a classmate for being a bully. He has never before made any mention that he stabbed anyone.
In today’s speech, he emphasised that if he was capable of murder as a teenager, then: “Even more so as president. You fuck with my countrymen, I won’t let you off the hook. Never mind about the human rights advocates.”
Among the numerous critics of the drugs war, he turned his ire on United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard.
You’ll be slapped, not stabbed…
He said: “That’s why I told Callamard, if you investigate me, I’ll slap you.
“I will slap her in front of you. Why? Because you are insulting me. Why? Because you yourself do not believe in the research of your own organisation. You are fucking me and I do not want it.”
The “research” he was referring to was an erroneous accusation that the UN official quoted an expert who said drugs were harmless.
He did not identify this expert but identified them as “itim (black)”.
“She brought a black – a doctor, supposedly. He said on TV, ‘You know, use of drugs is harmless’. I said, ‘son of a bitch’.”
[This section of the speech begins in about the 44th minute]
He was almost certainly referring to American psychology professor Dr Carl Hart who said during a forum in Quezon City that there was no evidence that shabu physically shrank the human brain.
Callamard, who was present at the event, tweeted Hart’s scientifically verifiable remarks.
In his speech, the president took this to imply that Callamard thought that the “use of drugs is harmless”, which would contradict the UN’s own research on drug use.
To emphasise his point, he read from a 2014 International Narcotics Control Board study.