PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday promised Chinese businessmen a hard stance against corruption to ease business transactions, but told them to behave “or I will kill you.”

“We are trying to do away with this culture of corruption and abuses of government,” the president said in a speech at the launch of property company Golden Topper Group, Inc. in Parañaque City late Wednesday.

Mr. Duterte also asked real estate companies not to allow themselves to be a haven for illegal foreign workers.

“Your buildings should never serve as a haven for undocumented foreign workers nor for the manufacture of illegal drugs,” he said.

Mr. Duterte told executives to call him up even in the middle of the night to complain about corruption.

He also said foreign businessmen should slap government officials or personnel who try to bribe them.

“The only reason why there is a lot of corruption in the Philippines is because we are not assertive,” Mr. Duterte said.

Filipinos, he added, easily give in to extortion because “they are afraid of being denied or delayed.” The president warned foreign investors against involving themselves in criminal activities in the country, especially drug trafficking.

“You know, we’re good friends with everybody,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that he wouldn’t hesitate to tell the Chinese ambassador in the Philippines that “I killed your idiot citizen” because of illegal activities.

“To me you are just also another carcass. There is no other order to the police. It’s to capture you dead or alive. Preferably dead so that you cannot go back to your country to do crime again and be back again in my country to do another,” he added.

Mr. Duterte thanked Golden Topper officials for investing in the country’s property industry.

“Indeed, the success of this endeavor will surely cement your status as the government’s reliable partner in propelling the Philippine economy forward,” he said.

“It will also highlight your role as an important partner in spurring infrastructure development, generating more jobs, and sustaining the steady growth of our economy,” he added.

ABOUT 600 allegedly illegal Chinese workers have been arrested in the Philippines in less than a week after Beijing’s call for a crackdown on online gambling.

Philippine authorities last week arrested about 324 undocumented Chinese nationals in the western Palawan province for alleged cybercrimes. The workers will be deported, the Immigration bureau said earlier.

The agency earlier said it arrested 277 Chinese nationals on Wednesday for allegedly conducting illegal online operations in Pasig City.

Those arrested were wanted for fraud and investment scams in China, the Immigration bureau said, citing information from Chinese authorities.

Last month, China urged the Philippines to crack down on online casino operations catering mostly to Chinese nationals.

President Duterte has said he would not ban the billion-peso industry despite Beijing’s opposition because it benefits the Southeast Asian nation. — Arjay L. Balinbin