Spokesperson on Duterte's rape joke: 'The masses get him'

The Islamic State-inspired Maute group continues to hold ground in some parts of Marawi city. AFP

The Islamic State-inspired Maute group continues to hold ground in some parts of Marawi city. AFP

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while delivering a speech, during a vist to an evacuation centre for Marawi residents, in Iligan on the southern island of Mindanao on June 20.

Pres. Duterte's penchant for rape jokes hasn't died down, not one bit. "You can mess with, maybe a Miss Universe". Ana Santos, a freelance journalist based in the capital Manila, told Al Jazeera that the president's jokes about rape had "reached a point of maddening frustration". "I thought, the mayor should have been first", causing a furor, both locally and overseas.

She also said Duterte could be doing his latest "word stunts" to divert the country's attention from his "most glaring incompetence", the government's battle against the ISIL-inspired Maute Group in Marawi, which has been going on for nearly two months. Pero pag sinabi mo na, "I have human rights so when I kill somebody...", he said.

While campaigning for the presidency in April 2016, Duterte made horrific remarks about an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and murdered during a 1989 prison riot in Davao, while he served as mayor. The fighting is ongoing.

"I assure you, by the time I make my - kung buhay pa ako - five years from now, drugs will be at its lowest", he added. "Appropriate measures have been taken against those responsible".

Chelsea Clinton speaks during a fundraiser for her mother, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, at Radio City Music Hall on March 2, 2016 in New York City.

Mr. Duterte has repeatedly been criticised, both locally and overseas, for making jokes about rape, even when he was still running for President a year ago. "When your father, the president of the United States, was screwing Lewinsky and the girls there in the White House, how did you feel?" Duterte challenged Chelsea Clinton.

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