Philippines presidential candidate makes staggeringly offensive rape joke

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Given the increasingly coarse tone of the 2016 presidential election, it's easy to forget that when it comes to politicians saying outrageously offensive things, our Trump-iffied discourse is just a drop in the global bucket.

Take, for example, Rodrigo Duterte, longtime mayor of Davao City and serious contender in the Philippines' upcoming presidential election. Duterte—or "Digong," as he's known locally—is facing near universal condemnation for remarks made earlier this month at a campaign stop in Quezon City. There, according to CNN Philippines, Duterte was speaking to the assembled crowd about a 1989 riot at a Davao City jail, during which, reports The Chicago Tribune, twenty people were killed, including five hostages—among them 36-year-old Australian lay missionary Jacqueline Hamill, who was gang raped and murdered by inmates before authorities regained control of the prison.

Per translation from CNN Philippines, Duterte, speaking in the mayoral third person, reportedly told the crowd:

"They raped the women, so the first assault because they retreated, they used the bodies as cover, one of those was the body of the Australian woman lay minister. Tsk, this is a problem. When they went out, they wrapped the body. I looked at the face, son of a b*tch she looks like a beautiful American celebrity. Son of a b*tch, what a waste. I thought, they raped her, they lined up to her. I was angry she was raped, yes that was one thing.  But she was so beautiful, I think the mayor should have been first. What a waste."


According to, video taken of the speech shows Duterte's "joke" (if you can even call it that) being met with a smattering of laughter from the crowd.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Duterte reportedly explained "I'm sorry in general. I'm sorry to the Filipino people, it's my style, it's my mouth, I said it in anger–listen to the story behind it," adding "it was not a joke. I said it in a narrative. I wasn't smiling."

Despite what may have sounded like an apology, Duterte has since adamantly refused to back down from his controversial comments, telling reporters "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)."

Reactions to Duterte's remarks have been swift and unforgiving.

In a post on their Facebook page, Australia's embassy in the Philippines wrote "Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialised. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere."


It's a sentiment echoed by many of Duterte's fellow presidential candidates. CNN Philippines reports that Grace Poe—Duterte's closes rival in the race—took the mayor to task, saying:

"It is distasteful and unacceptable, and reflects his disrespect for women. 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."


"While some may seem impressed with the mayor's nonchalance and tough talking stance, he should be reminded that at all times, women, men and the LGBT alike should be treated with dignity and respect."

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Filipino Vice-President Jejomar Binay, himself a candidate for the presidency, was even blunter, saying  "You feel it's a waste that you did not rape the Australian lay minister. You are a crazy maniac who doesn't respect women and doesn't deserve to be president."


Users across social media have also weighed in, with one writing "#RapeIsNotAJoke It has ruined lives and scarred so many. There is nothing funny about rape, Duterte. Your joke was crass and insensitive."


Another user writes "Presidential candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte… I think I just lost all the respect I had for you. #sorrynotsorry #RapeIsNotAJoke"

Throughout his career, Duterte has made a name for himself as a tough-talking, anti-crime politician, whose nickname—"The Punisher"—offers a glimpse at how, under his administration, Davao City went from hotspot for violence and murder to tourism destination. In 2012 Duterte reportedly offered a $120,000 bounty to whomever brought him the decapitated head of a local crime boss…on ice.


"If you are doing an illegal activity in my city," Duterte was once quoted as saying, "if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination."

The Philippines' presidential election is scheduled to take place on May 9.

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