Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, at the centre of a storm over an offensive gaffe about a rape victim, has expressed doubts about his daughter’s statement that she was a rape victim and described her as a “drama queen”.
The presidential election in the Philippines could go down to the wire after Duterte, who opinion polls show as the frontrunner, caused outrage with his remarks about a 1989 prison riot in which an Australian missionary was raped and killed.
“I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first,” Duterte, the mayor of Davao city, was heard saying in a clip that appeared on YouTube over the weekend.
On Monday, Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte said she was a rape victim but did not take offence at her father’s comments about the Australian missionary. She said the rape took place a long time ago and she did not tell anyone about it, especially her parents, according to news reports in the Philippines.
“I am asked by people to comment on the rape joke of (Duterte). I am just saying I went through it and I do not feel offended by the rape joke,” Sara told the media.
Duterte told reporters on Tuesday that he did not believe his daughter was raped and described her in jest as a “drama queen”, the Inquirer.net reported.
“She can’t be raped, she carries a gun,” Duterte was quoted as saying at the University of the Philippines Visayas, where he delivered a speech. He said he had no previous knowledge of his daughter’s claim and did not want to comment further as it was a “personal matter with her”.
During the speech too, Duterte expressed doubt about his daughter’s comments and jokingly called her “a drama queen”.
Duterte apologised on Tuesday for the rape comment that could dent his chances of winning the presidency in an election three weeks away.
Representatives of women’s groups filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Commission on Human Rights against Duterte for his remark on the rape of the Australian missionary. The complainants said he violated a law protecting women’s rights through a string of actions, including his rape comment.
“Our complaint stems from the string of actuations as shown in print and video by Mr. Duterte, showing his callous, derogatory and insulting treatment of women,” leaders of nine women and workers’ groups said in their complaint.
Australian ambassador Amanda Gorely tweeted on Sunday that “rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized” and “violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere”.
A rival candidate called Duterte a “crazy maniac” who was not fit to lead the nation.