After drawing flak, Duterte makes new rape joke

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte made a new joke about rape on Friday, July 14, saying he would congratulate a rapist who could carry out the crime even knowing he would die.

"What I don't like are kids (being raped). You can mess with, maybe Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know you are going to die," Duterte said, implying the rapist would be lynched for the crime.

Duterte made the joke in a speech to Filipino diplomats in Davao City as he defended his bloody war on drugs which has left thousands dead since he took office in 2016.

Duterte's last rape joke was widely criticized, even resulting in the resignation of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) member Samira Gutoc-Tomawis.

Addressing military troops in Iligan City last May at the height of clashes in Marawi City, Duterte said he has the back of soldiers, even one who would be found guilty of rape while under martial law.

"I'll take your place in prison. If you rape 3 [women], I'll take the blame," said the President, who had sparked outrage during the campaign when he cracked a rape joke about an Australian missionary.

Rape jokes while under martial law is a touchy topic for a region like Mindanao, as there are claims of women there raped by soldiers during the martial rule of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: Palace defends Duterte's rape joke as 'heightened bravado')

It was also criticized as it came amid reports of human rights abuses in the hands of soldiers under Duterte's own martial law.

Phelim Kine, a deputy director with Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said back then, "Duterte's pro-rape comments only confirm some of the worst fears of human rights activists that the Duterte government will not just turn a blind eye to possible military abuses in Mindanao, but may actively encourage them."

Duterte's humor

It was the latest in a series of off-color jokes by Duterte who openly boasts of having mistresses and often makes sexual remarks about women.

Speaking in his rambling style, the president also boasted to the diplomats that he faked tuberculosis to escape mandatory military training in college.

But he also reiterated his vow to continue his bloody war on drugs despite accusations that thousands of suspects had been killed by police and vigilantes since he took office.

"Human rights? That is bullshit to me," he said, recalling how he called then-US president Barack Obama "a son of a whore" after Washington criticized the wave of killings.

Police say at least 3,200 people were slain in their anti-drug operations but rights groups charge that thousands more have been killed by vigilante groups. – with reports from Agence France Presse/Rappler.com