'He's the President': Albayalde defends Duterte PMA rape joke

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde came to the defense of President Rodrigo Duterte who took flak for dropping a rape joke during the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), the country's premier military school.

"That's an obvious joke," Albayalde told reporters in a Camp Crame press briefing on Monday, May 27.

It has been the tradition in previous PMA graduations to have the President pardon all offenses that cadets committed in the academy in Baguio City. On Sunday, Duterte joked that his pardon included rape, triggering laughter from attending officials and graduating cadets themselves.

"He's the President, hindi naman natin pwedeng sabihin sa kanya kung ano ang dapat niyang sabihin at hindi. That's the President of the Republic," Albayalde said. (We cannot dictate what he can or cannot say.)

NOW: PNP holds a press briefing in Camp Crame. Generals are in active wear as they celebrate the PNP sports fest today. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/i6hqCNjis0 — Rambo Talabong (@ramboreports) May 27, 2019

Albayalde himself is a product of the PMA, belonging to the PNP-ruling Sinagtala Class of 1986. He was flanked by his general-ranking classmates during the briefing: PNP deputy chief for administration Fernando Mendez Jr, personnel and records management chief Lyndon Cubos, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Amador Corpus.

Albayalde added that Duterte cannot pardon rape offenses with his PMA visit. His pardon, Albayalde said, only covers administrative offenses within the academy like appearing late to formations or wearing the wrong uniform.

"Kasi 'pag 'yun (rape) ang offenses mo, I'm sure mabilis pa sa alas kwatro, labas (Because if that's your offense, you would immediately be expelled from the academy)," Albayalde said.

With his statement, Albayalde joins Malacañang in the chorus of voices repeatedly defending Duterte for his infamous rape remarks and disregard for women in his speeches. The President has refused to apologize, saying that his remarks were merited given the beauty of women. He has also defended himself by citing freedom of expression. – Rappler.com