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Just kidding

Philippine President Duterte walked back comment that he once threw someone from a helicopter

Philippine President Duterte says he was kidding about throwing someone from a helicopter

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made another shocking claim this week when he said that he once threw a “corrupt” person from a helicopter in flight as punishment. He then threatened to do it again.

“If you are corrupt, I will fetch you using a helicopter to Manila and I will throw you out,” Duterte said during a speech about typhoon-relief efforts. “I’ve done it before; why can’t I do it again?”

Duterte’s helicopter threat was aimed at officials who misuse relief-effort funds. The person thrown from the helicopter was a kidnapper and murderer, Duterte said.

Later, however, Duterte denied that he had thrown someone from a helicopter, implying the comment was a joke.

“We had no helicopter. We don’t use that,” he told CNN Philippines.

Duterte then went on to poke fun at media coverage of his comments. A spokesman has said Duterte’s comments should be taken “seriously but not literally,” echoing statements made during the U.S. election, that the press takes Donald Trump literally but his supporters take him “seriously but not literally.”

In office only since June, Duterte is waging a violent war on drugs and corruption in the Philippines, even encouraging vigilante justice. He has previously made claims (and then walked them back) about personally participating in extrajudicial killings. Earlier this month, Duterte said when he was mayor of Davao he would ride around on a motorbike looking for trouble so he “could kill.” In 2015, Duterte said he had killed three people in Davao who were accused of kidnap and rape.

Human rights groups have repeatedly decried Duterte’s methods, which the man himself has compared to Hitler and the Holocaust. Nearly 5,900 people have died from Duterte’s war on drugs, according to the most recent figures released by the Philippine National Police. Of those killed, 3,841 were “murdered outside police operations.”

Duterte’s favorability ratings remain high.

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