Kalibo, Aklan — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is on a roll.
He dared ambassadors of the United States and Australia to sever diplomatic ties with the Philippines amid the continued backlash following his controversial remarks on the rape and murder of an Australian missionary in 1989.
The front-runner in popularity surveys among presidential candidates was unfazed by the possibility that diplomatic ties might be cut off if he is elected as the country’s chief executive.
“If I become president, go ahead and sever it,” he told reporters on Wednesday night after speaking before about 6,000 supporters at the Pastrana Park in this capital town.
“It was not a joke when I uttered it (in 1989). They took it as a joke when I narrated it. These ambassadors are stupid. I was mad when I uttered it.
When I narrated it, I was not angry any more,” Duterte told reporters in Aklan.
He also lashed out at women’s group Gabriela and called them “silly” and “dumb” for filing a complaint against him at the Commission on Human Rights for violation of the Magna Carta for Women.
He also called the CHR “bobo” (stupid) for issuing a summon against him less than three weeks before the May 9 polls.
Duterte received a major backlash for treating as a joke the rape and murder of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill.
A YouTube video has gone viral, showing Duterte commenting how beautiful the missionary was and then joking about how the hostage-takers had raped her before he did.
“Naunahan pa ang mayor. Patayin lahat yan (They did it ahead of the mayor. Kill them all),” the mayor recalled saying during the 1989 hostage-taking inside the Davao Metrodiscom Headquarters.
While she did not name Duterte, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely early posted a statement on her Twitter account saying:
“Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialised. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere.”
Her statement was echoed by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in a television interview.
In his speech at the rally in Kalibo, the mayor told the ambassadors: “You’re not Filpinos. Shut up. Do not interfere because it’s election time.”
When reminded by reporters of his earlier statement that if elected president, he would seek the help of Philippine allies if the Philippines were attacked in relation to the the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute, Duterte said he is not worried about the effects of his statements on diplomatic ties.
“That’s their problem, not mine. I never interfered in their elections,” he said.
Assuming that the ambassadors were right, Duterte said they should not have issued the statements during election time.
“It will show that you’re politicking. If you want, you call me. I will not apologize. I will not go to you for any talks. I am a Filipino and I will chart the history of my country,” he said.
He also dismissed commentaries of foreign media comparing him to American billionaire Donald Trump, front-runner in the Republican presidential primaries, who has become controversial for his remarks on women, migrants, and Muslims among others.
“I am not a bigot,” Duterte said.
During a sortie in Cebu City after the Kalibo rally, Duterte also called on the ambassadors of Australia and the United States to the Philippines to refrain from commenting on the controversy.
“It’s election time. Ambassadors (and) diplomatic heads should refrain. Wag kayong sumakay (Don’t ride on the issue), Australia and United States, kasi hindi ninyo alam ang totoo (because you don’t know the truth),” he said.
In a talk with reporters in Kalibo, Duterte described as “foolish” the move of Gabriela to file a complaint against him.
“That’s foolishness. S-i-l-l-y,” he told reporters, spelling out the word.
But in his hour-long speech, he told those who filed the complaint: “Go to hell.”
He said he was exercising his constitutional right to freedom of expression.
In Cebu, he described Gabriela as “bugok” (dumb).
“Nag-file sa akin ng human rights, bayad kayo siguro, put*ng in* ninyo (They file a complaint against me. They might have been paid),” the mayor said.
Duterte said the CHR was also “bobo” (stupid) for issuing a summon against him less than three weeks before the polls.
“I am a candidate for the presidency. Why will you write to me? And what is your ground? Hoy, mga put*ng in* ninyo. Wala na akong magagawa sa kabobohan ninyo (There is nothing I can do with you stupidity),” he said.
He said he will not respond to the letter of CHR, adding that the commission showed disrespect not only to him but to his supporters as well.
During an interview with reporters in Kalibo, Duterte was asked to comment on the challenge raised by Vice President Jejomar Binay that presidential candidates undergo medical examinations including a psychological test.
“Him first. The test might show that (he) is a thief. For me, it’s just my mouth,” Duterte said.
Binay issued the challenge after television network ABS-CBN reported on results of a psychological test on Duterte which was used in the annulment of his marriage with his former wife Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Duterte has a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings” and has “difficulty controlling his urges and emotions,” according the report.
But Duterte dismissed the results.
“That’s the standard reason (in annulment cases). You can read all annulments,” he said.
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