President Duterte on Monday sent a chilling message to companies and individuals who had not been paying correct taxes to the government: "You sons of bitches, pay up. If not, I will kill you."
Mr. Duterte sent the message to the tax cheats at the launch of Hardin ng Lunas at the Presidential Security Group compound in Malacañang.
"You pay your taxes and pay it correctly because we need it to run government," he added.
Mr. Duterte later met with some of the country's biggest taxpayers, among them business tycoons Manuel V. Pangilinan and Lance Gokongwei, at the kickoff of the tax campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at the Philippine International Convention Center.
In his speech, Mr. Duterte assured the business leaders that "there will be no corruption" in his entire six-year term.
He said he would never interfere in any government projects as he urged the public to "slap and curse" corrupt public officials who would extort money from them.
"What you will pay, (as long as it is) accurate, correct (and) on time, the spending will be there for you," he said.
But instead of discussing tax reforms, Mr. Duterte spoke about his bloody war on drugs, corruption in the government and his personal ties with some of his Cabinet members.
In jest, the President said he had asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III what he should tell his audience at the BIR event.
"Sonny, what should I tell them? You sons of bitches, pay up or I will kill you?" he said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
"It's just a story. Don't believe it," he said.
"You're not criminals."