Duterte jokes about '42 virgins' as tourism 'come-on'

MANILA, Philippines – On his last day in India, President Rodrigo Duterte joked that if Muslim extremists can lure followers with the promise of "42 virgins" in heaven, he would like to lure tourists to the Philippines with virgins as well.

Duterte, speaking to Indian and Filipino businessmen on Friday, January 26, said that virgins are promised to would-be Islamic State (ISIS) followers.

"The come-on is that if you die a martyr, you go to heaven with 42 virgins waiting for you. If I could just make it a come-on also for those who’d like to go to my country," he said.

Soft laughter was audible from the audience after Duterte made these remarks.

While he called the ISIS ideology "bankrupt," he said they "do not have the monopoly" of making promises about virgins.

"They do not have the monopoly of discourse in this field. And I said, one of the most is promising virgins when you go to heaven. I'd like to have the virgins here, not in heaven. God may not allow it," he said.

Duterte, a self-confessed womanizer, has previously been blasted for sexist and objectifying remarks about women.

His supporters though, defend him by saying he is only joking and that he has supported pro-women policies as a government official. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.