Philippines: Duterte wants state auditors 'kidnapped, tortured'

Philippine president accuses the independent constitutional body of hampering the work of his administration.

    Duterte has been known for issuing controversial statements that have been denounced by human rights groups [Bullit Marquez/AP]
    Duterte has been known for issuing controversial statements that have been denounced by human rights groups [Bullit Marquez/AP]

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has advocated the kidnapping and torture of government auditors for hampering the work of his administration.

    In a speech before local officials gathered in the capital, Manila, Duterte cursed at the independent constitutional body, which is responsible for examining the accounts and spending by government agencies.

    "Let's just kidnap people from COA [Commission on Audit]. Let's bring them here, then we will torture those sons of w*****," Duterte said in an expletive-laden speech in English and Filipino.

    WATCH: Philippines protests warn of threat to democracy under Duterte (2:26)

    "They always make things difficult. That's what I don't like, making things difficult," he said.

    For decades, government auditors in the Philippines have earned the reputation of being difficult, for closely scrutinising expenditures of all government agencies.

    While they do not have powers to prosecute, evidence gathered by state auditors has been used to send public officials to jail.

    Previously, Duterte had railed against the state auditors saying "they should be pushed down the stairs", and ridiculed government regulations as "s***".

    'Trying to dismantle of the democratic foundations'

    Before he became president, Duterte had a run-in with the agency, also known for its acronym, COA.

    In 2015, while he was serving as mayor of Davao, the main city in the country's south, government auditors had questioned the validity of Duterte's decision to hire more than 10,000 contractual workers that cost the city government an equivalent of $15m.

    Auditors warned that the decision to hire a high number of government workers in a temporary capacity could foster political patronage. There have also been accusations that many of the workers were nonexistent, or so-called "ghost employees".

    Critics have denounced Duterte for trying to dismantle of the democratic foundations of the country, by attacking those who opposed his policies, including judges and opposition politicians.

    In the same speech, Duterte also railed against "corrupt" government officials, including judges, police and military officers, saying "my plan is, kill all of them".

    "They are the ones who should be killed, a bloodletting for the nation," he said in Filipino.

    The Philippine president also said that if he happens to take the same plane as an unnamed judge, whom he accused of failing to convict anyone, he will puncture the plane, "so we will go to hell together".

    "I'll open the exit so that we will all be sucked out of the plane."

    The Philippine president has been known for issuing controversial statements, which his spokespersons would later dismiss as presidential banter that should not be taken seriously.

    In late December 2018, Duterte confessed that he molested their family help as a teenager.

    He said he has "no problem" saying it in public and in front of the media "because it is true".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News