Philippines presidential candidate: I'll pardon myself for mass murder

A Philippines presidential candidate who previously boasted about running vigilante death squads that killed more than 1,700 people now says he will pardon himself for mass murder if he is elected.

Rodrigo Duterte made the comment Wednesday – while also making jokes about his genitals -- during a speech to the Makati Business Club in Manila.

The mayor of Davao City has flip-flopped about his ties to the vigilante squads, but they have drawn criticism from human rights groups and the United Nations, the AFP reports.

The squads reportedly killed more than 1,700 people and Duterte said he would pardon soldiers and police accused of human rights abuses.

“I will issue 1,000 pardons a day,” he said, while referencing a law that lets the president to pardon himself. “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte,” he reportedly said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

A cornerstone of Duterte’s campaign has been a pledge to crack down on crime across the Philippines by using security forces to kill criminals.

Duterte told the group of business figures that the first six months of his presidency, if elected, "will be a bloody one,” the AFP reports.