CONTROVERSIAL Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte’s said he would not apologize for telling a “joke” about a murdered Australian rape victim despite drawing wide public outrage on the matter over the weekend.
The Davao City mayor stood by his comments, saying that the remark had been said in “utter anger” using “gutter language” during a political rally over the weekend, which was in his trademark, straight-talking style.
During his speech, Duterte spoke about the 1989 gang rape of an Australian missionary worker by prisoners, making inappropriate comments about the victim’s beauty and how the rapists had gotten to her first. Footage of the speech was then posted to YouTube, which sparked anger among netizens.
Rappler translated his comments from the video:
“In my utter anger – that’s gutter language, street-speak – when I opened [the sheets covering the corpse], I was speaking angrily, ‘She’s so beautiful, she looks like an American actress. Son of a bitch, they beat me to her. Kill them all.'”
Though Duterte said he would not apologize for what he said, he did issue a general apology to the Filipino public, reported Philstar, saying: “I am sorry in general. I am sorry for the Filipino people. It is my style. It is my mouth. I said that in the heat of anger. But listen to the story behind.”
Over social media, debates raged between Duterte’s supporters and critics.
Duterte has proved once again why he shouldn't win the elections. If his views regarding rape and women don't bother you, you're disgusting.
— Nat de Izquierdo (@NatflixAndChill) April 17, 2016
"Stop making excuses for Duterte. Accept that he is a misogynist, a chauvinist and a bigot, and then accept that you are voting for one."
— Ted Pylon (@TedPylon) April 17, 2016
Duterte may lack social refinements. but he is a definition of bravery, honesty, being grounded and dedicated. For me he is the best choice.
— m.c.a (@micarrie_09) April 18, 2016
Duterte’s rivals in the presidential race have also spoken out against him. According to BBC, current Vice-President Jejomar Binay said in a statement aimed at Duterte: “You are a crazy maniac who doesn’t respect women and doesn’t deserve to be president.”
While Senator Grace Poe said Duterte’s comments were “distasteful and unacceptable”.
“No one, whoever she is and whatever her looks may be, deserves to be raped and abused. Rape is a crime and no laughing matter. We should all be outraged at abuses against women,” she said.
The Philippines’ Australian ambassador Amanda Gorely said in a tweet that “rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized”.
Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialised. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere.
— Amanda Gorely (@AusAmbPH) April 18, 2016
This is not the first time the presidential front-runner has courted controversy.
Known for his hardline tactics against criminals, Duterte – branded by TIME magazine as “The Punisher” – has been accused of supporting extrajudicial killings, including pulling the trigger in at least three shooting incidents involving criminals, as well as pushing a drug suspect out of a flying helicopter.
The presidential election is set to take place on May 9.