Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte challenged the United States and Australia to cut ties with the Philippines if he gets elected as President after the ambassadors commented on his widely-criticized rape remark.
“If I become president, go ahead and sever it (diplomatic ties),” the tough-talking mayor said in a campaign rally in Kalibo, Aklan on Wednesday night.
Duterte was referring to the relationships with the United States (US) and Australia, two of the Philippines’ closest allies, in his campaign speech after the US ambassador agreed with the Australian ambassadors’ comment posted online.
The Australian ambassador to the Philippines, Amanda Gorley, posted in her Twitter account that to trivialize rape is wrong.
“Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere,” Gorley’s Twitter post read.
US Ambassador Philip Goldberg later agreed with the Australian ambassador saying in a television interview that “statements by anyone, anywhere that either degrade women or trivialize issues so serious as rape or murder are not ones that we condone.” However, he clarified that he does not intend to meddle with the political affairs of the Philippines.
“It would do well with the American ambassador and the Australian ambassador to shut their mouths,” Duterte said in reaction to the comments made adding that the ambassadors should not interfere in the elections.
Duterte came under fire recently after a video surfaced online showing him make a remark about a rape victim. He was recounting a Davao City prison riot where five lay missionaries were killed, including the Australian Jacqueline Hamill who was also raped by the inmates.
In the Youtube video, Duterte was heard saying: “P— ina, sayang. Ang napasok sa isip ko, ni-rape nila, pinagpilahan nila lahat doon.”
“Nagalit ako kasi ni-rape? Oo. Isa rin ‘yun,” he added. “Pero napakaganda, dapat mayor muna ang nauna. Sayang.”
The Mayor also got embroiled in a controversy over his remarks about the absurdity of travelling to Mexico given its problems with drugs and crime, saying it in the presence of the Mexican ambassador.
“Bakit, ikaw ba pupunta ng Mexico ngayon? (Why, are you going to Mexico now?) Could you enjoy going to Mexico with kidnappings and killings there? Drugs. Colombia. Everywhere, America,” he told an audience in a tourism forum in Pasay City on April 8 which was also attended by the Mexican ambassador.
“[Mexico] is a safe country...Mexico receives over 38 million tourists a year. Mexico in 2013 and 2014 was the number one direct investor in the Philippines. We want to be known for all our work and cooperation with the country,” the Mexican ambassador, Julio Camarena Villaseño, said in relation to Duterte’s statements.
Duterte, after making his speech, said he does not feel the need to apologize to the ambassador as he was only telling the truth.
Speaking to cheering crowds in the Kalibo campaign rally, he insisted he was merely exercising his right to free speech.