Outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to defend one of his most recent and most controversial comments, in which he advocated shooting female communist rebels in the vagina.
“I said, you crazy (women) … I will order that your vagina be shot,” Duterte said in the local language, as cited by Reuters. “That’s true. That was a sort of sarcasm.” The firebrand leader made the comments while railing against what he describes as “amazons,” who had left their children to fight for the the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party in his country. “Why would you give birth six, seven times and you’re an NPA? Then you’d go to war, you leave your family behind.”
“Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your —- so that… If there are no —- it would be useless,” he said at Heroes Hall, the Presidential Museum and Library, in Quezon City on February 7.
As well as for his policies, Duterte has been repeatedly criticized for his highly inflammatory remarks, including jokes about rape and murder. Despite this widespread condemnation, he remains a popular figure among his supporters, with whom his direct and abrasive rhetoric appears to resonate.
This is not the first time Duterte has used sarcasm as a defense to backtrack on outlandish remarks. Duterte had a public spat with Chelsea Clinton over a notorious ‘rape joke’ he made to soldiers fighting Islamist militants during the 2017 siege of Marawi City. “I will go to jail for you. If you happen to have raped three women, I will own up to it,” Duterte said.
The president said Monday that another group of former rebels is due to visit the presidential palace soon. “I will tell them the same. Go ahead, have children, and then leave them. Join the NPA.”
Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque says that, while the comments should be taken seriously, they should also not be taken literally, though there seems to be little room for misinterpretation in this particular instance. Duterte recently terminated peace talks with the Maoist rebels, whom he considers terrorists, citing a betrayal of his trust and ongoing hostilities during negotiations as the reason for which the peace process collapsed.