Spokesperson on Duterte’s rape joke: ‘The masses get him’

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. PHOTO: ABS-CBN News

The Palace on Monday came to the defense of President Rodrigo Duterte after the latter drew flak for yet another rape comment.

Duterte on Friday earned the ire of various groups after he said that while he condemns raping of children, he would “congratulate” someone who would rape a Ms. Universe despite the risk of prosecution or even death.

“I don’t want anyone to touch children. If you mess with Ms. Universe, maybe I would even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody knowing that you are going to die for doing that,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, however, said people should not see Duterte’s latest comment in a negative light.

“We need to understand what he really said. Basically it’s not a joke. It’s a very serious statement. He said he would praise you if you have the gall to do that despite knowing that it would be your death sentence,'” Abella said in a news conference in Malacañang Monday.

“We do need to clarify certain statements. Like I said, he was quite serious about that.”

Abella also noted that Duterte continues to enjoy high public ratings, which means that majority of the people tend to look past some of the president’s controversial comments and focus on his programs.

“Majority of the people, especially the masses, really get him. So I think we should go by that,” he said.

Abella added, while there are some people who “tend to zero in on certain details” the voice of the public should prevail.

READ: Why Duterte’s rape joke isn’t funny: Report finds Marawi women scared of rape by soldiers

“They are the ones who really approve of him. They find the president as somebody who understands them, who has the common good at heart,” he said.

Duterte drew flak in late May when he told soldiers that he would defend soldiers if they happen to rape women.

Re-published from ABS-CBN News. *All Filipino quotes translated to English

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