Philippine President Says Rape Comment Was ‘Sarcasm’

Dennis Santos
2017.05.31
Davao City, Philippines
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170531-duterte-620fina.jpg Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (second from left) attends the 119th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in the southern city of Davao, May 31, 2017.
AFP

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he was “being sarcastic” when he told soldiers recently that they could rape women while battling Islamic State-linked militants in the southern city of Marawi.

The tough-talking 72-year-old president made the controversial remark on May 27 as he urged soldiers to use the powers of martial law to take control of Marawi from militants who had overrun it.

“I was not joking. I was being sarcastic, you listen to the speech,” the president said in an address to the Philippine Navy in Davao City, his hometown.

He used the occasion to hit back at Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, one of many people who criticized the controversial comment.

Chelsea Clinton had tweeted, “Not funny. Ever” in reaction to news of Duterte's remarks on rape. She called the Philippine leader a “murderous thug with no regard for human rights.”

Resorting to his trademark colorful language, Duterte questioned whether the former first daughter had condemned her father during his infamous dalliance with a White House intern in the 1990s.

Duterte said he was a “man of sarcasm” and that he made the comment to lighten the mood and impress upon soldiers that he would take full responsibility as a consequence of martial law that he had ordered to quell the militants.

“I will go to jail for you. If you happen to have raped three women, I will own up to it,” he reportedly said.

The comment drew global condemnation. At home, some of his fiercest defenders asked him to publicly apologize, but he has largely kept silent.

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