MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday hit Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales over her remarks that he is “goading” people to kill drug addicts.
In a speech during the mass oath-taking of presidential appointees, Duterte said that Morales used the wrong statement.
“Conchita Carpio Morales blew her tact and castigated me publicly for just mentioning killing criminals,” Duterte said.
The president stressed that he never said “kill people” and clarified what he said was to “kill criminals.”
The government has used this distinction in the past,implying that criminals are not human and that killing them cannot then be considered a crime against humanity.
READ: Duterte officials hold drug suspects, criminals not human
Morales made the statement Thursday night in her interview with Japan’s NHK World.
“He’s goading people to kill people. That’s a problem. His communications people say ‘that’s hyperbole,” Morales, who heads a Constitutional commission considered independent of government, said.
READ: Ombudsman: Duterte order to kill criminals unacceptable
Duterte, in response, said that there is no law prohibiting him from threatening to kill criminals.
“Ombudsman Morales, find me a law which says I cannot threaten criminals with death. Find me a law which would bar me from saying ‘I will destroy you if you destroy my country’ because if you can do that, I will step down tomorrow. Ibigay mo lang sa akin,” the president said.
The president also accused the Office of the Ombudsman of being corrupt, citing his experience with the agency when he was a prosecutor. Duterte was a city prosecutor in Davao City from 1977 until 1986 before being appointed OIC vice mayor.
The Office of the Ombudsman was created by the 1987 Constitution although it had a predecessor, the Tanodbayan, which was created by President Ferdinand Marcos.
“Do not play God and shut up. Wala ka namang batas, ibigay mo sa akin,” Duterte told Morales.
Meanwhile, Morales clarified that she did not say anything about any law against threatening criminals.
“Ombudsman Morales is amused by so much about something she did not say… Her answer was ‘goading people to kill irrespective of the context is, to me, unacceptable,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement released shortly after Duterte’s remarks.
“The president should review what she said first,” the statement read. – with reports from Elizabeth Marcelo