Malacañang on Duterte rape remark: The masses get him

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang dismissed concerns about President Rodrigo Duterte's latest rape remark by saying the majority of Filipinos already accept the chief executive's speaking style.

"The majority of the people, especially the masses, really get him," said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Monday, July 17, during a Palace news briefing.

Last Friday, July 14, Duterte said in a speech that he might congratulate someone for committing rape since they were brave enough to commit a crime that would guarantee their death.

He also implied that it would be okay to rape Miss Universe.

"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 during a diplomats' event in Davao City.

But Abella said the Filipino masses already accept the President's manner of expressing himself.

"There are those who tend to zero in on certain details, but as far as the public is concerned, and they are the ones who really approve of him, they find the President as somebody who understands them, who has their common interests, their common good, at heart," said Abella.

He also emphasized that the remark was not made by the President in jest.

"It was not a joke. It was a very serious statement that's actually saying, 'Bilib naman ako, gagawin mo pa 'yan, alam mo naman ikamamatay mo 'yan,'" said Duterte's spokesman.

('I'm impressed by you, you would do it even if you know you will die.')

Besides his latest rape-related statement, there were two similar remarks for which Duterte has been severely criticized.

His last remark, for instance, in which he said he would take the blame for soldiers who commit rape in Marawi, led to the resignation of his appointee, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

Back in the 2016 campaign season, Duterte sparked outrage when he said he should have been the first to rape a female Australian missionary during a prison riot in Davao City in the 1980s. – 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.

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