The frontrunner to be elected president of the Philippines next month has lashed out at Australia amid uproar over him joking that he should have been first in line to rape an Australian missionary before she was murdered.
Philippines candidate jokes about raped Aussie woman
Watch presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte joking about the 1989 rape of female Australian missionary.
"This is politics. Stay out. Stay out Australian government. Stay out," tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte said after Australia's ambassador in Manila Amanda Gorely tweeted that rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialised and that "violence against women and girls is unacceptable, anywhere, anytime".
Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte talks to the media in Manila. Photo: AP
Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialised. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere.— Amanda Gorely (@AusAmbPH) April 18, 2016
Mr Duterte's supporters swamped the Facebook page of the Australian embassy in Manila with angry remarks and abuse, forcing officials to exclude comments and post a statement saying they have the right to moderate posts which are discriminatory, hateful or threatening.
Nick-named "Duterte Harry" after the Clint Eastwood character, Mr Duterte has refused to apologise for his remarks during a campaign rally last week about 36-year-old Jacqueline Hamill, who was gang raped and killed by inmates during a jail siege in Davao City, 1000 kilometres from Manila, in 1989.
Mr Dutere told journalists that he was being castigated because of his "bad mouth" but could still provide "clean government."
"I thought all the while I was doing my job for humanity," he said.Philippines presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: AP
"I do not want anybody controlling my mouth. I say what I say and I've said it and if it does not sit well with you that's your problem."
Mr Duterte claimed he was so angry at the inmates who killed Ms Hamill and other hostages, including a three year-old boy, he took his Uzi submachine gun and fired at them, emptying the magazine.Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City in the southern Philippines talks to supporters prior to addressing the crowd on his proclamation as the presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban political party in November last year. Photo: AP
"I was the first to fire…that was recorded history," he said.
Mr Duterte, a long-time crime-fighting mayor of the city, said he saw Ms Hamill's body after he ordered security forces to storm the jail, killing 16 hostage-takers.Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, right, is officially declared the presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban political party by its president, senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel, in November last year. Photo: AP
"I looked at her face – son of a bitch – what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up," he said.
"I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing … but she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste."
Mr Duterte, who has pledged to shoot criminals, hang them using fishing line or drown them in Manila Bay if elected at elections on May 9, is leading opinion polls on a wave of discontent about violence and lawlessness in the nation.
"It's going to be bloody," he said of his putative presidency.
The remarks about Ms Hamill prompted widespread condemnation in the majority-Catholic nation of 100 million, including from the Philippine government, rival candidates and four Catholic bishops, who asked voters to judge if Mr Duterte is fit for office.
Robin Haines Merill, another Australian missionary who was in Manila in 1989, said Ms Hamill was assaulted and murdered while ministering in the jail.
"Don't vote for people who speak vile things against women. We are all made in the image of God," she said.
But Mr Duterte's remarks also stirred some of his huge body of supporters to his defence.
"Duterte is a brute, but he has done his job well," one Facebook user posted, an apparent reference to Davao, where his ruthless approach to crime is credited with turning a murder capital into one of the safest cities in the country.
"I'd rather choose a bad joke than a bad government," posted another supporter.
University of the Philippines political science professor Aries Arugay said the remarks are serious and show that Mr Duterte "is not a perfect candidate", but said he doubts the controversy will damage his campaign.
Professor Arugay said many of Mr Duterte's supporters are "true believers" who will not be swayed.
"If you take a look at a strength of support for Duterte you could see that he really has a constituency," he said.
The comments by Ms Gorely, a career diplomat who was sworn in as Australia's ambassador in January, clearly angered Mr Duterte, who if elected has pledged to wipe out crime within six months.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra issued a similar statement.
"We note there has been widespread condemnation of the comments in the Philippines, including from President Benigno Aquino," the department's statement said.
Analysts say Mr Duterte's surprise popularity is similar to Donald Trump's in the United States.
He once told criminals they had two choices about how they left Davao: vertically or horizontally.
"When I say leave Davao, you leave Davao. If you do not do that, you are dead," he said during a recent heated political debate.
"If you do not know how to kill people and you're afraid to die, that's the problem, you cannot be president."
Fifty-four million Filipinos are eligible to vote to choose the president. The election is seen as crucial to the Philippines continuing to be seen as the "rising star" of Asia.