After the controversial, hard-charging president of the Philippines claimed in a speech that he killed criminals himself and swallowed more painkillers than his doctor allowed, government officials raced into damage control on Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech to business executives at the presidential palace Monday that he used to hunt down criminals himself to set an example.
"In Davao, I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys that, if I can do it why can't you?" he said. "I go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around and I would just patrol the streets and looking for trouble also. I was really looking for an encounter to be able to kill."
He also revealed that he used to take eight times his prescribed dosage of fentanyl, a powerful and addictive painkiller drug used by many cancer patients.
“I was only given a fourth of that square thing. There was a time that I took two… When [my doctor] knew it, he made me stop,” Duterte said, according to the Philippine Star.
His justice secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre II, told reporters Wednesday: "The president always resorts to hyperbole, he always exaggerates just to put his message across."
Duterte, however, has repeatedly said that drug suspects were killed only under his anti-drug crackdown as mayor, and now as president, when they fought back and threatened law enforcers.
Duterte, who took office in June, has faced global backlash for his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, which has led to the deaths of more than 2,000 suspects in gun battles with police. About 3,000 other drug-related killings are under investigation there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.