Palace says Duterte did not make another rape joke

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2017 01:16 PM | Updated as of Jul 17 2017 01:21 PM

MANILA – Malacañang 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.

"Ang ayaw ko ‘yung bata. Kung pakialaman mo siguro ‘yung Ms. Universe, maybe I would even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know that you are going to die,” 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. Parang sinabi niya na 'bilib naman ako gagawin mo iyan eh alam mong ikakamatay mo ‘yan,'" 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.

“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.