Duterte Admits To Assassination Attempt On 'Son Of A Bitch' Politician; Spokesman Says He Misspoke

Phillipines President Rodrigo Duterte - who said he once threw a man from a helicopter - admitted to ordering an assassination attempt on a politician last year according to the New York Times

While railing against drug-related corruption in a Tuesday speech from the presidential palace in Manila, Duterte mentioned two mayors who were killed by police after he accused them of involvement in the drug trade; "Rolando Espinosa, who was gunned down in his jail cell in 2016, and Reynaldo Parojinog, who died in a raid on his home in 2017," according to the report. 

He then turned to mayor and former general Vicente Loot - who survived an assassination attempt last May after Duterte accused him of protecting drug rings. In 2016, confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa testified that he gave weekly bribes to Loot, according to ABS-CBN news. 

"General Loot, you son of a bitch," said Duterte. "I ambushed you, you animal, and you still survived."

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo immediately began damage control - claiming on Wednesay that Duterte had meant to say "You were ambushed," not "I ambushed you," noting that Duterte's native language is Visayan, not Filipino. 

"It is silly and absurd to conclude that he is behind the ambush just because he misspeaks the Filipino language, which is not his native tongue or first language," said Panelo. 

Mr. Duterte ran for president promising a bloody campaign to kill drug dealers, and thousands of people — many but not all of them suspected dealers or addicts — have been gunned down by police officers or vigilantes since he took office in 2016.

Mr. Loot, Mr. Espinosa and Mr. Parojinog were on a list of more than 100 politicians that Mr. Duterte read on live television soon after taking office, accusing them of being involved in drug trafficking.

In December, Mr. Duterte denied being involved in the attack on Mr. Loot, which left three of his aides and a dock worker wounded. Mr. Loot, who was unhurt in the attack, has denied involvement in drug trafficking. -New York Times

In July, the UN voted to explore an investigation of killings which have occurred during Duterte's tenure - while two complaints have been filed at the International Criminal Court in The Hague accusing Duterte of murder. According to the report, "one was filed by two men who say they were part of a “hit squad” he commanded as mayor of Davao, a city in the south." 

On Wednesday, a lawyer for those men, Jude Sabio, said that Duterte's comments about Loot's failed assassination could be used against him in court. 

"As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, he knows that admission is the queen of evidence," said Sabio.