Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told the country’s police to kill his son if allegations he is involved in drug trafficking with a Chinese triad are proved, saying officers carrying out the sentence will not be prosecuted.
Mr Duterte said: “I said before my order was: ‘If I have children who are into drugs, kill them so people will not have anything to say.’
“So I told Pulong (a nickname for his son): ‘My order is to kill you if you are caught. And I will protect the police who kill you, if it is true’,” he said, addressing government workers at the presidential palace.
“I can say to people, ‘There, you keep talking. That’s my son’s corpse’,” added Mr Duterte, who was elected on a brutal law-and-order and anti-drugs platform in June 2016.
Paolo Duterte, 42, the vice mayor of the southern city of Davao City, appeared before a senate inquiry two weeks ago to deny accusations he was part of a Chinese triad involved in smuggling a huge amount of crystal meth into the country from China.
“Once and for all, I now have the time to deny any and all baseless allegations thrown against me,” he told the Senate.
His father initially backed his eldest son, urging the army to engage the accuser, opposition senator Antonio Trillanes, in a gun duel.
Mr Duterte’s son-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, is also accused of being involved in the operation, which he, too, denies.
Thousands of people have been killed since President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign began after he took office in June 2016.
He has said he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts and has called children shot dead in the drug war “collateral damage”.
But he has also insisted police always follow the law, and that they must only kill in self-defence.
Political opponents also accuse the President of corruption, which he vehemently denies, dating back to his two-decade reign as mayor of Davao.
Rallies across the country have highlighted growing opposition to Mr Duterte’s regime, thousands of protesters marching against what they see as the emergence of a dictatorship.
The protests took place on the 45th anniversary of the start of a nine-year period of martial law under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Mr Duterte remains popular with many Filipinos and thousands also attended rallies to show their support for him.