Philippine president Duterte offers to shoot criminals himself

Credit: AP Photo/Aaron Favila

The president of the Philippines has offered to shoot criminals himself while warning he may bring police back to the frontlines of his deadly war on drug addicts.

President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew police from his anti-drug war after they were accused of rights abuses in killing thousands of people while following his orders to eradicate illegal drugs in society.

He replaced them with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which has about 2,000 officers compared with 165,000 for the police force.

Duterte has repeatedly insisted he has not ordered or incited police to murder drug addicts or suspects.

However, at other times he has said he would be happy to slaughter drug addicts or have tens of thousands killed.

On Friday he said he would be prepared to kill criminals himself, as he raised doubts about the PDEA being able to contain illegal drugs.

"Those who rape children, who rape women, those sons of... if you don't want the police, I am here now. I will shoot them. That's true! If nobody would dare it, I will pull the trigger," he said.

Duterte said he was already considering bringing the police back to run the drug war.

"Okay, let us see, six months from now. If things get worse again, I will say to these apes: 'Go back to this job. You solve this problem of ours'," he said, referring to the police.

Duterte was elected to office last year after vowing during the campaign that 100,000 people would die as he eradicated illegal drugs in society.

Since then, police have reported killing more than 3,900 "drug personalities".

Another 2,290 purple have died in unsolved "drug-related" killings, government figures show.