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The president of the Philippines is now claiming he personally murdered suspected criminals

The president of the Philippines admitted Monday that he has personally killed suspects to show police officers "that if I can do it, why can't you," The New York Times reports. President Rodrigo Duterte, 71, has been making global headlines for his controversial remarks since being elected in June and has encouraged police and vigilantes to slaughter more than 5,000 people in a purported crackdown on drug dealers and users.

Duterte had claimed in 2015 that he personally killed three suspects who were accused of kidnapping and rape, although he later backtracked on those comments. The admission earlier this week is reported as his first since being elected president: "Hours earlier on Monday, Mr. Duterte spoke at an awards ceremony in Manila, where he said, 'I am not a killer,' and then threatened to kill police officers who disobeyed him," The New York Times reports.

Later Monday, Duterte informed business leaders that "in Davao, I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police] that if I can do it why can't you. And I'd go around in Davao with a motorcycle ... and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill."

Amnesty International, which has demanded an end to Duterte's "reign of terror," condemned the president's recent comments. "By boasting about the blood on his own hands, President Duterte will further embolden police and vigilantes to blatantly violate laws and carry out more extrajudicial executions without fear of being held to account," said Rafendi Djamin, the director for the South East Asia and Pacific regions.

Duterte has claimed that President-elect Donald Trump praised his brutal anti-drug tactics and that he has been invited to the White House.