Duterte vows clean gov't despite 'dirty mouth'
Refuses to read apology prepared by publicists
MANILA - PDP-Laban standard-bearer and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he can give Filipinos a ''clean government'' despite what comes out of his bad mouth.
"Ako 'yung kandidato na masama ang bunganga, pumapatay ng criminal, pero CBCP (Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines), hindi ako magnanakaw," he said during a campaign sortie in Bacolod City.
Duterte also lashed back at his opponents, who were quick to express their opinions against the mayor's comment on rape.
READ: Binay calls Duterte 'sexual pervert'
"Ako hindi ako namimilit ng tao. Choose. Kung si Binay ang presidente, anong mawala sa inyo? He is a certified plunderer. So with Mar Roxas. Akala ko hindi abusado. He's using all the resources of the government and money."
"Despite or in spite of my mouth, I will give you a clean government," Duterte said.
According to Duterte, he will not apologize, adding that he has rejected what his publicists prepared for him to read.
"My publicists in Davao have already prepared a statement of apology which I said I will not read it because it is wrong," he said.
He also said he is willing to accept the consequences of his remarks, even if it hurts his chances of getting elected as president.
"If it is not acceptable to the cultured people, let it be. And if it would mean my defeat in the election, so be it," Duterte said.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Meantime, some analysts said the presidential election could go down to the wire after an offensive gaffe by the front runner Duterte about a rape victim caused outrage and could mean losses of crucial swing votes with just three weeks to go.
READ: Duterte overtakes Poe, claims lead in ABS-CBN survey
The tough-talking mayor has the edge in opinion polls over Senator Grace Poe but as condemnation poured in for a second day, focus shifted to whether Duterte's remarks and his refusal to apologize could cost him the presidency.
Poe's running mate, Francis Escudero, said he expected it would see Duterte lose "soft votes," or 5-8 points in polls.
INFOGRAPHIC: Voting preferences for President and Vice-President: The ABS-CBN surveys
A clip appeared on YouTube over the weekend of Duterte at a recent rally recalling a 1989 prison riot in which an Australian missionary was killed, and inmates had lined up to rape her.
WATCH: Duterte jokes about raped Australian woman
In what sounded like a joke, Duterte said the victim was "beautiful" and as mayor of Davao city where it took place, he should have been first in the queue.
"He crossed the line," said Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms in the Philippines. "He may have given Poe the keys to the presidency."
Social media users expressed their outrage and echoed comments by Duterte's opponents denouncing him as crass and unfit to be president.
Australian ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely said rape "should never be joked about" and U.S. counterpart Philip Goldberg said his country would not condone any statement anywhere that trivialized rape and murder.
READ: Australian envoy boos Duterte's rape remark
Duterte has cultivated an image as a crime-busting political hard man and his inflammatory campaign speeches and no-holds-barred approach have endeared him to many Filipinos.
"He has been testing the limits of civility ... but he's unleashed a hornets' nest with this rape joke," said Julio Teehankee, dean of political science at Manila's De La Salle University.
"This will have an impact on him and it's too close, three weeks to go, then you make this major blunder. Last week, the momentum was on his side, he was about to break away."
Duterte reiterated his comment was taken out of context and refused to apologize for repeating words he had used in anger in 1989. He regretted the "gutter language" he used, but said that was part of his tough upbringing.
The remark could make for a more exciting race, but Duterte's core support should remain intact.
"It all goes back to this phenomenon: Voters in the Philippines are people-oriented, hardly issue-oriented," said Catholic priest Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law.
"People who are committed to him will remain committed to him." -- with Reuters