Roque to feminists: 'Just laugh' at Duterte's jokes

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has unsolicited advice for feminists outraged at President Rodrigo Duterte's sexist jokes: lighten up.

In an interview with Duterte supporter Franco Mabanta  on Wednesday, February 7, Roque called such feminists "OA" or over-acting when they get angry at the President's jokes about women.

"You know, sometimes, these feminists are really a bit OA. I mean, that's funny. Come on. Just laugh," he said.

The Philippine leader, a self-confessed "womanizer," has joked about wanting to rape an Australian missionary and using "42 virgins" as a tourism "come-on."

Duterte had also described Filipinas as "fragrant" and once joked that he prayed Super Typhoon Yolanda would kill the ugly and spare the beautiful. (READ: Duterte jokes: 'Fragrant' Filipinas, 'ugly' Yolanda victims)

Duterte's humor, said Roque, endears him to many Filipinos who can "identify" with such jokes that are frowned upon elsewhere as sexist.

"I think that's why people love him because in the Philippines, even if we are in despair, even if we are hopeless and crying, we laugh, you know, so I think that's very Filipino and that's why people identify with his humor," said Roque.

Before becoming Duterte's mouthpiece, Roque was a human rights lawyer who defended World War II comfort women and the family of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude. –

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