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Philippine Presidential Candidate Refuses to Apologize for 'Revolting' Rape Joke

During a campaign rally, Rodrigo Duterte, the election frontrunner, said he was angry that jail inmates who brutally raped and murdered a missionary in 1989 had gotten to the woman before he did.
El alcalde de la ciudad filipina de Davao, Rodrigo Duterte, gesticula durante el evento ‘MAD for Change’ en Taguig, al sur de Manila, el 29 Noviembre 2015. (Imagen por Mark R. Cristino)

A leading Philippines presidential candidate is in hot water after making jokes about an Australian missionary who was raped and had her throat slit during a siege at the jail at which she was working.

Rodrigo Duterte's remarks and references to Jacqueline Hamill were made during a campaign rally in Quezon City near Manila, and were met with laughter from the audience.

Hamill, 36, was one of five missionaries taken hostage and murdered by a gang of inmates during a 1989 uprising in at the jail in the center of Davao City, where Détente was mayor at the time. Troops later stormed the jail and killed all 16-hostage takers (and may have accidentally shot Hamill).


Duterte, 71, told his audience that he was there when Hamill's body was brought out of the jail. "I looked at her face, and I thought: 'Son of a bitch – what a pity'" Duterte said. "They raped her, they all lined up."

"I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful," Duterte added. "I thought, 'the mayor should have been first.'"

Duterte's comments have provoked sharp condemnation just three weeks before Filipino's go to the polls, with many of his critics saying they show he is "unfit to be president."

Vice president Jejomar Binay, who is also running, described Duterte's comments as "simply revolting", and described the former Davao mayor as " a crazy maniac who doesn't respect women and doesn't deserve to be president."

This election comes at a particularly delicate time for the island nation. The Philippines is engaged in an escalating dispute with China over territory in the South China Sea. Meanwhile experts are concerned that the country's pockets of religious fanaticism could make the Philippines a regional lure for extremists across Asia supporting the Islamic State.

Duterte has ridden a wave of discontent in the violence-stricken country to lead in opinion polls, on campaign promises to eradicate crime by shooting criminals, drowning them in Manila Bay or hanging them using fishing wire. His zero-tolerance stance on crime earned him the nickname of "The Punisher" during his time as mayor of Davao, and often boasts about turning the murder capital in the country into what is now touted as the most peaceful city in southeast Asia. He received frequent criticism from human rights groups while he was mayor for endorsing extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals by vigilante death squads.


Despite the torrent of outrage being directed his way, Duterte has refused to apologise for his comments. "This is how men talk," Duterte said in a video he posted himself on Youtube.

He also added that he was simply recalling the jail siege and was not making light of it.

"It was not a joke. I said it in a narrative," he said. "I was very angry when I spoke. I said: 'Sons of whores, she is as pretty as an American movie star. They got to her before me. So kill them all."

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Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch said Duterte's comments "were a disgusting endorsement of sexual violence."

Duterte is known for his often vulgar and pugnacious speeches. But that's part of his appeal.

In an interview with a local news outlet, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III attributed Duterte's good showing in the polls as a response to the "seeming chaotic or disordered" situation in the country and a spike in crime. Pimentel said his supporters embrace his bullishness, and described the former mayor as "brash and tough-talking."