Presidential hopeful in trouble for rape joke

Rodrigo Duterte: Source: Flickr

Rodrigo Duterte, a presidential candidate in the Philippines, is under fire after a video surfaced of him apparently joking about a murdered Australian rape victim.

Duterte, who promises the mass extermination of criminals if he wins next month’s election, appears on YouTube making remarks about the Australian missionary.

Jacqueline Hamill was working in a prison in Davao in the southern Philippines when she was raped and killed in 1989 by rioting prisoners. Duterte was the city’s then mayor.

Hamill, 36, was one of five missionaries murdered by a gang of inmates before soldiers stormed the prisoners, killing all 16 hostage-takers.

“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 bitch. 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 is shown telling supporters at a rally.

Duterte, who has boasted about the extrajudicial killings of suspects by vigilantes during his time as Davao mayor, is leading the polls ahead of the May 9 election.

His rivals, women’s groups and social media commentators rapidly condemned his remarks.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman, Herminio Coloma, said the comments were indicative of a “lack of fitness for the presidency” and his “utter lack of respect for women”.

Aquino is backing another candidate, his former interior secretary Mar Roxas, who trails Duterte in the polls.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is also running, called Duterte’s comments “simply revolting”. “You are a crazy maniac who doesn’t respect women and doesn’t deserve to be president,” Binay said in a statement.

Another candidate, Senator Grace Poe, who is running second to Duterte in the polls, said his comment was “distasteful and unacceptable, and reflects his disrespect for women”.

In a response also uploaded on YouTube, Duterte insisted he had just been recounting the events of 1989 and was not making a joke about them. “It was not a joke. I said it in a narrative,” he said. “I was very angry when I spoke. I said: ‘Sons of whores, she is as pretty as an American movie star. They got to her before me. So kill them all’.”

Duterte refused to apologise for his remarks. “This is how men talk,” he said on the online video.

One Filipino said on Twitter: “I broke down after watching Duterte on Aussie rape. I can’t fathom how his followers can laugh at it.”

Women’s rights group Gabriela also attacked the candidate, saying rape was not “something to be trivialised in a joke”.

Many Filipinos have embraced Duterte’s vulgarities, boasts about sexual conquests and his promised war on crime.

He called Pope Francis a “son of a whore” in a speech last November but his devoutly Catholic followers forgave him.