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Duterte sorry for Philippine rape remark

BBC News BBC News 19/04/2016
Philippines presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte © Reuters Philippines presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte

A leading Philippines presidential candidate, Rodrigo Duterte, has apologised for comments about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary.

Video showing Mr Duterte making light of Jacqueline Hamill's assault during a prison riot in Davao City in 1989 caused outrage in the Philippines.

He was the mayor of the city at the time, and said she was so beautiful "the mayor should have been first".

Mr Duterte had initially said his comment was simply "how men talk".

But in his apology he insisted: "There was no intention of disrespecting our women and those who have been victims of this horrible crime."

"Sometimes my mouth can get the better of me," he added in his statement.

Mr Duterte is known for his irreverent speeches, sexual boasts, and inflammatory statements, including once proposing the mass execution of suspected criminals.

He built his political reputation on a tough approach to crime-fighting in Davao city, which he has run for 22 years.

President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma had said comments showed Mr Duterte was "unfit" for presidential office and reflected his "utter lack of respect for women".

Rival presidential candidate, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, was even more blunt: "You are a crazy maniac who doesn't respect women and doesn't deserve to be president."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said the comments "were a disgusting endorsement of sexual violence" for which Mr Duterte should be utterly condemned.

In 2015 HRW had described Mr Duterte as the death squad mayor for his tactics in dealing with violent crime in Davao, with more than 1,000 people being killed.

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