Philippine officials loyal to the president have tried to soften his earlier remarks, saying Rodrigo Duterte has a tendency to exaggerate.

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President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said Friday that he had personally pulled the trigger and killed three people as mayor of Davao City, doubling down on boastful comments he made this week that loyalists had tried to deny.

“I killed about three of them because there were three of them,” Duterte said at a news conference in Manila, the capital. “I don’t really know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies. It happened. I cannot lie about it,” he said in English.

The remarks followed comments he made Monday, when he told business leaders that as mayor he had patrolled the streets on a motorcycle and killed criminal suspects to set an example for his police officers.

“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble, also,” he said Monday. “I was really looking for a confrontation, so I could kill.”

Philippine officials loyal to the president have tried to soften his earlier remarks, saying Duterte has a tendency to exaggerate.

“The president always resorts to hyperbole; he always exaggerates just to put his message across,” Vitaliano Aguirre II, the justice minister, said Wednesday.

When he was mayor of Davao City, Duterte was known to carry a .38 pistol and was accused of overseeing a death squad to kill criminal suspects. As president he has led a nationwide war on drugs, which has singled out drug dealers and users and has left more than 3,000 people dead.

A reporter Friday also asked Duterte to clarify other comments in which he seemed to suggest he had overused a prescription painkiller.

On Monday, Duterte said he had been prescribed the powerful painkiller fentanyl because of chronic back pain and migraine headaches.

“I was only given a fourth of that square thing,” he said, describing a patch containing the drug that was to be applied to the nape of his neck. “There was a time that if I took two — of course, my doctor learned that I was using the whole patch, because I felt better.” The Philippine Star posted a video of the speech online.

“I am not an addict, only when it is prescribed,” he said. “Addiction is only when you take it with regularity, my friend.”