Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has admitted he paid an army of social media trolls to defend him while he was on the campaign trail last year.

The outspoken and at times controversial politician was defending himself after a University of Oxford study was published, finding that Duterte uses both automated and human trolls on social media.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Duterte said: “I spent 10 million [pesos] ($198,000)? Me? Maybe in the election…They were all during the campaign.”

He was refuting accusations that he continued to deploy a social media army, inadvertently admitting that he relied on the strategy in his 2016 presidential campaign.

“I don’t need to defend myself from attacks,” he was quoted as saying by ABS-CBN News. “I’m not anymore eligible for re-election.”

Presidents in the Philippines serve a single six-year term without re-election.

The president added that the University of Oxford was a “school for stupid people”, reported Rappler.

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