Palace: Duterte’s latest rape remark not a joke but 'sarcasm'

Ruth Abbey Gita

MALACAÑANG on Monday defended President Rodrigo Duterte anew for his latest statement trivializing the rape issue, saying that the President’s rape remark was “not a joke” but was instead said in a “sarcastic” manner.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte merely wanted to emphasize that any individual who would attempt to rape someone would have to face appropriate sanctions.

“We need to understand what he (Duterte) really said. Basically, it’s not a joke; it’s a very serious statement,” Abella told a press conference.

“Perhaps, what he wants to say is, ‘I admire you for having the guts to do that even though you’re aware that you’ll die for doing that.’ [That was what he meant], which was sarcastic. He said it sarcastically; it was not a joke,” he added.

The President drew flak once again after making another joke about rape, which was directed to contestants of Miss Universe beauty pageant.

In a speech delivered in his home province in Davao City last week, Duterte brought up the issue of rape, saying that he would not tolerate rape of children.

He, however, followed his statement with a joke that he would “congratulate” those who would rape the beauty contestants.

“What I don’t like are kids being raped,” the firebrand President said at the 11th Ambassador’s Tour Philippine Reception held in Lanang, Davao City on July 14.

“You can mess with, maybe Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know that you are going to die [for your crime],” he added.

It was not the first the President earned the public’s ire because of his rape jokes.

In May, he told soldiers in jest that they could rape up to three women amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, stressing that he is willing to take responsibility for their crimes.

Duterte was also condemned during the 2016 presidential campaign after he made a joke about the Australian missionary worker who was raped and slain in Davao City in 1989, the time when he was still the Davao City mayor.

Despite the criticism hurled against Duterte, Abella was confident that the public understand the President because he is “more than just jokes.”

“As far as the public is concerned, they are the ones who really approve of him. They find the President as somebody who understands him, who has the common interest, the common good at heart,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)