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International media take notice of Duterte's rape 'joke'

Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte said he did not make a joke and that he was merely narrating what happened. File photo

MANILA, Philippines — At least four international news outlets have reported about presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte's remark about an Australian missionary who was raped and killed in 1989.

Singapore-based The Straits Times, UK-based BBC and The Guardian, and Australian news site ABC have published reports about the Philippine presidential candidate and the online outcry that followed after he made what appeared to be a joke about the 36-year-old missionary Jacqueline Hamill.

In a campaign rally last week, Duterte recounted the incidence where he was examining the body of Hamill after she was raped and killed in a prison riot in Davao City.

“Ni-rape nila lahat ng babae... So ang unang casualty, ang isa dun 'yung lay minister na Australyana. Tsk, problema ito. Australyana eh! 'Pag labas, binalot. Tiningnan ko 'yung mukha. P********, parang artista sa Amerika na maganda. P********, sayang ito! Ang pumasok sa isip ko... ni-rape nila! Pinagpilahan nila! P******** ‘yan, nagalit na ako. Kasi ni rape? Ah, oo. Isa na rin 'yun. Napakaganda, dapat mayor muna ang mauna,” he said. The audience laughed as the Davao City mayor told the story.

The comments created an online firestorm with people condemning and defending the presidential candidate.

The BBC described him as a candidate "known for his irreverent speeches and boasts of sexual conquests."

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The Straits Times said: "Many Filipinos have embraced Mr. Duterte for his vulgarity-laced speeches, his boasts of sexual conquests and his promised war on crime."

The Guardian had a similar description of Duterte, adding that "even when he called Pope Francis a 'son of a whore' in a speech last November, his followers in the devoutly Catholic country quickly forgave him."

ABC reported about how the presidential candidate's comments drew "widespread condemnation," from presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma, his rivals Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay, to Robin Haines Merrill, Hamill's fellow missionary during the time she was raped and killed. Merrill took to Facebook to condemn Duterte.

"Don't vote for people who speak vile things against women," she said.

Duterte said he did not make a joke and that he was merely narrating what happened. He apologized, however, for the way he spoke.

"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," he said.

Last week, Duterte emerged as the frontrunner in the Social Weather Stations poll preference survey, edging out Poe. — Jovan Cerda

 

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