He shocked many across the world when he promised to kill 100,000 drug dealers within months of sweeping to power.

Now Rodrigo Duterte is at it again, this time with what appears to be a bizarre job offer to a group of Filipinos who have returned home after working overseas.

On Tuesday the firebrand Philippines President, who welcomed a returning group of overseas workers from Saudi Arabia, said: "If you lose your job, I'll give you one. Kill all the drug addicts."

The President was also reportedly overheard saying to the workers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport: "Help me kill addicts" and "Let's kill addicts everyday," the Philippine Star reported.

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He then handed out envelopes containing 10,000 Pesos (NZ$268) to 150 workers.

The President also thanked them for their contribution to the economy and said he hoped they can now help him in his anti-drug campaign.

Deputy Director Asia Division for Human Rights Watch Phelim Kine accused the President of inciting vigilante violence and called Duterte's comments a "perverse idea for a job creation program".

"Duterte's latest exhortation for vigilante killings comes as no surprise," he said.

"He has made repeated calls on the public to kill drug addicts as part of his anti-drug campaign."

Mr Kine said such talk, including a comment made last June where Duterte encouraged the public to kill, could constitute criminal incitement to commit murder.

"If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful," Duterte said on June 30.

Duterte has drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups who have long voiced concerns about the President's war on drugs and the unlawful killing of drug suspects and users by police.

More than 7000 people have died in the war on drugs.

According to Human Rights Watch, police claim to have killed 2690 people, but the group said this number doesn't include drug war victims Duterte calls "collateral damage".

Police claim about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate anti-drug operations.

But Human rights groups believe many of the remaining two-thirds were killed by paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes — a charge the police deny.

TALKING TOUGH, STAYING DEFIANT

The President has dismissed human rights concerns and last August reaffirmed his commitment to rid his country from drugs.

"My order is shoot to kill you. I don't care about human rights, you better believe me," he said.

It wasn't the first time Duterte has talked tough on crime.

Yesterday he offered a bounty for the capture of Muslim extremists behind a foiled attack on a central resort island, and ordered the navy to bomb militants who travel by boat in search of kidnap victims.

He also told media during a visit to central Bohol province that he was considering arming civilians there so they can help fight terrorists and drug suspects, adding he prefers outlaws dead than alive, the Associated Press reported.

"I encourage civilians also to kill because these are wanted dead or alive with a reward, but I prefer them dead because if they're alive I would have to feed them ... and that's very expensive," he said.

His visit came a week after troops, backed by air strikes, battled Abu Sayyaf fighters, leaving four militants, three soldiers, a policeman and two villagers dead.

Troops are hunting several extremists who escaped. Duterte has also offered a one million peso reward ($27,000) for information that would allow the military or police to capture the fleeing militants.

In February this year, the President also got tough on "rotten cops" and threatened to send them to Basilan Island, the home of the brutal Abu Sayyaf extremist group.

In a fiery address, given at the Philippine Presidential Palace, Duterte gave "rotten to the core" police officers an ultimatum — resign or serve on the island surrounded by terrorists.

He also banned the national police from carrying out his anti-drug campaign after a group of officers used the crackdown as a cover to kidnap and kill a South Korean man in an extortion scandal.

- with wires