UN human rights chief to PH judiciary: Probe Duterte's killing claims

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has urged Philippine judicial authorities to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte's admission that he killed "about three" people during his term as Davao City Mayor.

Zeid said the killings "clearly constitute murder."

"Credible and independent investigations must be urgently re-opened into the killings in Davao, as well as into the shocking number of killings that have occurred across the country since Mr. Duterte became president," Zeid said on Tuesday.

Duterte told reporters in Singapore last Friday that he killed hostage-takers when he was Davao City mayor.

"I killed about three of them… I don't really know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies," he said. "It happened and I cannot lie about it."

Related: Duterte admits killing criminals

Although he mentioned that the incident was covered by "all TV networks in Davao," he stopped short of specifically mentioning when it happened. "It was not because I walked around and I killed somebody."

"The killings described by President Duterte also violate international law, including the right to life, freedom from violence and force, due process and fair trial, equal protection before the law, and innocence until proven guilty," Zeid said.

Zeid added, it is "clearly unthinkable" for the judicial system "not to launch investigative and  judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer.

"As a government official, if (Duterte) encouraged others to follow his example, he may also have committed incitement to violence," Zeid said.

The President's admission came after reporters sought clarification over his remarks during a business forum on December 12.

At that forum, Mr. Duterte said, "In Davao, I used to do it personally, just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can't you. And I go around Davao with a motorcycle — with the big bike — and I would just patrol the streets and looking for trouble also. Talagang naghanap ako ng enkuwentro para makapatay [I really looked for confrontations in order to kill]."

Related: Duterte: I already asked forgiveness from God

During a speech at the Davao International Airport after arriving from Singapore past midnight Saturday, Duterte recalled engaging in a firefight with kidnappers in 1988 — three months into his first term as mayor.

He said a woman was kidnapped and "brought to Cotabato," and that the kidnappers demanded a ₱2 million ransom from the woman's parents. The kidnappers told the parents not to inform the police.

"But the parents whispered to me," Duterte said.

Duterte said he was with troops when the latter surrounded a house where the kidnappers were hiding — along with their hostage. According to Duterte, the hostage was secured, but the kidnappers "refused to stop."

"When they refused to stop, we saw a carbine pointed at us," he said. "We were parked nearby. So the shooting started. And I was one holding a .45, but when I saw them coming back to our direction, I grabbed my M16."

"There was firefight… I might have hit them all or none at all. The fact is I was there and I fired," Duterte said.

He said this was not the only time he was involved in a firefight. "[In] another kidnap-killing I was there. There was a shootout."

Duterte said that those he fired at were not suspects. "They were not suspects… I was in a shootout with criminals."

"At least I kill to protect people. I am not a dictator killing my political opponents to stay in power," Duterte said.