- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, admitted to personally killing people during his time as mayor of Davao.
Speaking at the presidential palace late Monday on his war on drugs and drug users, Duterte said, “In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police officers] that if I can do it, why can’t you. And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
The confession is not the first time Duterte has made a controversial comment with respect to his fervor for killing drug users. In October, the president likened himself to Hitler, saying that he too would be happy to kill millions.
Duterte has also said that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump praised his war on drugs in a “very engaging, animated” phone call. President Barack Obama, in contrast, discouraged the campaign; Duterte, who not long ago called Obama a son of a whore, said on Monday he is not about to dial down his war on drugs over Obama’s protestations.
Duterte later apologized for the Hitler comparison, and for insulting Obama, but not for his desire to kill millions of drug users. That makes a Duterte apology for personally executing suspected drug users all the more unlikely — an odd state of affairs indeed for the leader of a country with close historic ties to the United States, and which is still a linchpin of America’s Pacific strategy.
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