Earlier in April, Davao City Mayor and Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte made headlines for a horrifying “joke” he made at a campaign rally.
While referencing a 36-year-old Australian lay minister named Jacqueline Hamill, who was held hostage, raped, had her throat slashed and was shot in 1989, 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.”
And yes, he was referring to himself.
Still, his polling numbers continue to rise.
Here’s the full text of the widely condemned comments, translated by Rappler:
All the women were raped so during the first assault, because they retreated, the bodies they used as a cover, one of them was the corpse of the Australian woman lay minister. Tsk, this is a problem. When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son of a bitch, what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up. 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.
Duterte reaps international condemnation as news of his rape joke spreads. He deserves it because #RapeIsNotAJoke
— Leah Navarro (@leahnavarro) April 18, 2016
Someone who cannot control his mouth cannot control a country. #RapeIsNotAJoke
— Andrea Umali (@andrea_umali_) April 18, 2016
“Wow, Trump wouldn’t even say something like that,” one commenter tweeted. “And I thought Trump was a sleeze,” another tweeted. “Sounds like something Donald Trump would say,” yet another tweeted. “Think he ranks right up there with Trump,” finally another tweeted.
Even though the video went viral across the Internet, Duterte’s polling numbers have only continued to increase. According to Business World, Duterte commanded 33 percent of the vote during polling from April 18 to 20, a six-point rise from the 27 percent he posted from March 20 to April 2.
In fact, many supporters have commandeered #RapeIsNotaJoke in support.
I agree but he is still my President because I believe that he can make a big change to our country.
— chipper martin (@chippsdelight) April 18, 2016
Yes, I agree that #RapeIsNotAJoke no matter what you say about Duterte it won't change our minds. He apologized, that's fair enough.
— Hennie Cesista (@thespanesegirl) April 18, 2016
I agree that #RapeIsNotAJoke that's irrefutable. He already apologized. But voting for Roxas or Binay is a bigger joke.
— katrina (@katrinaplz) April 18, 2016
The second most popular candidate is Sen. Grace Poe, who polls at 24 percent.
Duterte’s comment about Hamill is far from the only controversial statement he’s made. He proudly refers to himself as a “womanizer,” and is open about having three girlfriends, according to CNN Philippines. He has claimed he will execute 100,000 criminals, according to Kicker Daily News. He has insulted disabled people and, when ambassadors from the United States and Australia warned him about joking about rape, he said they can “go ahead and sever” diplomatic ties, Business World reported.
But University of Santo Tomas political science professor Edmund S. Tayao told Business World that, despite these comments, Duterte “connects easily with the common people because he talks like an ordinary individual.” The mayor, then, “either draws people more to him or away from him because his personality is not moderate.”
It’s in this way that the Trump comparison might be apt.
Duterte’s spokesman said the numbers prove the country wants a new kind of president.
“This only affirms the strong clamor of our people for genuine change,” Duterte spokesman Peter Tiu Laviña told Business World. “Duterte has become a rallying symbol for all classes — poor, middle and rich — long fed up with ‘trapos’ messing up our country,” referring to slang for dishonest politicians. “We shall make use of the support of our people as inspiration to ensure their victory.”
The election for president of the Philippines is May 9.