President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, known for his off-color “sense of humor,” joked to soldiers after imposing martial law that they could rape three women and keep his support.
Duterte last week imposed martial law in his home region of Mindanao, a southern island home to 20 million people, to fight ISIS-affiliated militant groups who reportedly clashed with police.
“For this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible. Just do your work. I will handle the rest,” he told soldiers on Friday.
“You can arrest any person, search any house.”
“I will go to jail for you. If you happen to have raped three women, I will own up to it.”
The details of the conflict in Mindanao are spotty. When he declared martial law on Tuesday, he cited the beheading of a police chief, a chief who was, in fact, not beheaded and is still alive.
He’s said since then that he is prepared to expand martial law across the country. “I will not allow the country to go to the dogs,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
His comments sparked condemnation from the Philippine Women’s Party, who issued a statement saying, “Rape is not a joke.”
Duterte styles himself as an everyman politician and is known for being crass. On the campaign trail, he “joked” that “the mayor should have been first” in the gang-rape and murder of an Australian missionary in 1989. He was, of course, referring to himself: he was the mayor. After the comment, his lead widened in the polls.
Since assuming the presidency last May, Duterte has waged a bloody war on drugs that has killed thousands.
President Donald Trump invited Duterte to the Oval Office, calling him a “good man.”
“You’re doing an amazing job,” Trump added.