Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte put the blame on the media for supposedly misquoting him and blowing up the issue on the Philippines’ ties with the US and Australia, as a result of his controversial rape remark.
In a report by ABS-CBN, the tough-talking mayor said that media’s misleading questions made it appear as if he wanted to cut ties with the Philippines’ traditional allies, United States and Australia.
"Who am I to sever the ties? Ang kontrabida dyan is the media. Nag-imbento kayo ng tanong supposing it could result in the severance of the ties. Ganon ang media eh. Ipi-feed ka ng ganoong [tanong], anong answer mo? Sabi ko if they so desire okay lang. It was not my idea," Duterte said before the last televised presidential debate, PiliPinas Debates 2016: Ang Huling Harapan.
Duterte earlier said that he was open to severing ties with the two countries, should they want it, after the US ambassador agreed with the Australian ambassadors’ comment on the mayor’s widely criticized rape remark.
“If I become president, go ahead and sever it (diplomatic ties),” Duterte was quoted as saying in his campaign speech in Kalibo, Aklan last Wednesday (April 20).
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.
READ ALSO: Australia: Don't trivialize rape
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.
In the midst of Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s word war with the ambassadors of the United States and Australia over the mayor’s rape jokes about Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, the Duterte camp said that it was prepared to change foreign policy and start direct talks with China over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea as reported by the Inquirer.
Duterte’s stance is a sharp contrast to the Aquino administration’s efforts to win a case against China in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration and accepting support from other traditional allies such as the US and Australia after talks between claimants have failed and China continued with its seemingly unilateral, expansive reclamations and militarization in the disputed territories.