Rodrigo Duterte, the front-runner in next month’s presidential elections in the Philippines, is refusing to back down over his comments making light of the rape and murder of an Australian missionary. In his remarks, made during a campaign rally over the weekend, the 71-year-old spoke about his experience as the mayor of the city of Davao, where, in 1989, Australian national Jacqueline Hamill was raped and killed during a prison riot.
“They raped all of the women ... There was this Australian lay minister ... when they took them out ... I saw her face and I thought — ‘Son of a b----. What a pity ... they raped her, they all lined up. I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first,” Duterte reportedly said.
On Sunday, after a video of the campaign rally surfaced on YouTube, Duterte, who has a history of making provocative and irreverent remarks, attempted to defend his comments, saying he said that “in the heat of anger.”
“This is how men talk. It's my style, it’s my mouth, I said it in anger. ... It was not a joke. I said it in a narrative. I wasn't smiling,” Duterte reportedly said. “If it brings me down, let it bring me down. If it brings me up to the presidency, then well and good. I will serve you but I will not as a matter of honor apologize for it.”
Duterte’s comments elicited widespread condemnation from human rights groups, political opponents and even the Australian government, which called them “highly regrettable.”
“Australia strongly condemns such comments that make light of rape, which is a violent crime. Rape, or any form of sexual abuse, should not be trivialized,” a representative for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reportedly said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay — a rival presidential candidate — called Duterte a “crazy maniac who doesn’t respect women.”
However, this is not the first time Duterte, who is currently ahead of his rivals in opinion polls, has made such outrageous and vulgarity-laced remarks. In December, he boasted about being a “womanizer” who has two wives and two girlfriends. Earlier, in June, he said: “I can’t imagine life without Viagra.”
In another speech last November, he called Pope Francis “son of a w----,” blaming him for traffic snarls during his official visit to the country.