Duterte defends remark about shooting female rebels ‘in the vagina’

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The Punisher President takes aim to hit the rebels where it hurts. File photograph.

President Duterte has defended what he called “sarcastic remarks” about shooting female guerrilla fighters in the vagina.

The president, known for his frequent profane or obscene language, expressed anger toward what he called “amazons” who left their children to join the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

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“I said, you crazy women… I will order that your vagina be shot,” he said in the local language in a speech in his home town, Davao City. “That’s true. That was a sort of sarcasm.”

Duterte was criticised by women’s and human rights groups after first using the phrase when addressing a group of former rebels earlier this month. He told his audience it was an order he had previously given to troops when he was mayor of Davao City.

The president’s remarks, including jokes about rape, have often incensed activists, but have done nothing to dent his high levels of public support. Indeed, for many Filipinos his earthy language as part of his appeal.

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On Monday (February 26), he said another batch of former rebels would soon visit the presidential palace: “I will tell them the same. Go ahead, have children, and then leave them. Join the NPA.”

After the president first made the comment about shooting vaginas on February 7, his spokesman Harry Roque had said he should be “taken seriously, but not literally”.

He also explained that the president had been moved to anger because communist insurgents had “betrayed his trust” and caused a peace process with the government to collapse.

The president has now terminated the on-and-off peace talks with the Maoist-led rebels and wants them to be officially classed as terrorists because hostilities continued during negotiations. He has also offered rewards of 20,000 pesos for the heads of red fighters.

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