Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president notorious for his strict drug policy, reportedly said in a speech Wednesday that police could kill any of his children if it is proven they are involved in drugs.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Duterte said he warned his 42-year-old son about his stance.
“My orders are to kill you if you are caught, and I will protect the police who kill you,” he reportedly said. His son Paolo was reportedly accused of having a role in an organized crime syndicate, a charge he denies.
Duterte reportedly wanted to make clear to his countrymen that his family is not above the law.
“That’s better ... so I can say to the people: ‘There, you keep talking. That’s my son’s corpse,' he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters marked the anniversary of the 1972 martial law declaration by late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos with an outcry against what they say is the current president's authoritarian tendencies and his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
Hundreds of riot police deployed to secure the marches and rallies, which are expected to be among the largest against Duterte since he took office last year.
Pro-Duterte followers also staged rallies in Manila and police say they would guard against possible confrontations.
Duterte has warned he would use force or expand nationwide his martial law declaration in the country's south if anti-government protesters threaten public order. He placed the entire southern third of the largely Roman Catholic nation under martial law in May to deal with a bloody siege by pro-Islamic State group militants in southern Marawi city that has dragged on for nearly four months.
Marcos' martial law era, which ended in 1981, had been marked by massive human rights violations and muzzling of civil liberties.
According to left-wing group Karapatan, "Duterte and his security cluster have utilized narratives and tactics straight out of Marcos's playbook of repression, repeating and justifying rights violations, with increasing frequency and intensity.
Known for bombastic remarks, Duterte has said activists can stage street protests without government permits, and that even communist guerrillas can join as long as they don't bring their guns. He said he was also ready to turn in his resignation to Congress anytime if the military agrees.
He warned protesters not to break the law. "I will not hesitate to use force even if it would mean my downfall as president of this country, remember that," Duterte said Friday on state TV.
The Associated Press contributed to this report