Raking up another controversy, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte went too far when he was delivering a speech to inspire his troops.
Merely three days after declaring martial law in the rebellious southern Philippines, where government forces were battling terrorist groups that had begun to occupy the region, causing terror and forcing thousands to evacuate – Duterte addressed his soldiers.
The President, ordering his troops to crush the militants said in his speech, “You can arrest any person, search any house. I alone would be responsible” for anything they did under martial law.
He further added, “I will go to jail for you. If you happen to have raped three women, I will own up to it.”
The President’s comments, absolving his soldiers for any future rapes was said to be a joke, however, many publications were quick to point out the ruler’s previous comments that came before he won the presidency last year.
Duterte had then joked that he “should have been first” in the gang rape of a woman who was held hostage, raped and killed in the 1980s.
Ever since his comments, violence has infused the rhetoric and actions of his presidency.
A few months after winning the election, Duterte told reporters, “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. … I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
So far, Duterte’s drug war has led to thousands of people being killed, some murdered in cold blood by vigilantes, while others were gunned down by police on government orders.
His drug war has also been criticized by several authorities across the world, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, whom Duterte had then called a “son of a b***h.”
In more shocking comments post an attack in his hometown of Davao city, Duterte had called himself more brutal than the Islamic State, claiming he could eat the raw flesh of terrorists if he was merely given salt and vinegar.
In December last year, he claimed to have thrown a criminal out of a helicopter, later claiming that he was only joking.
However, his comments to soldiers on Friday were widely criticized.
A women’s political party in the country said in a statement, “Rape is not a joke. Martial law and the heightened vulnerability to military abuse that it brings to women and children are not a joke either.”
Meanwhile, a Human Rights Watch representative was quoted in a BBC report as saying that the president had signaled to his solders that they could carry out abuses under martial law.