It's final: Duterte takes back rape remark


Follow Catholic bishops, don't follow for me; if you vote for me, you'll go to hell, says Davao mayor

MANILA - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday reiterated he is apologizing and taking back his controversial statement regarding the rape of Australian missionary Jaqueline Hamill.

"That's correct. I take my word back. Nag apologize na ako," he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Duterte, who is the front runner in the May 9 presidential race, has drawn flak for a controversial statement he made during an April 13 campaign rally in Quezon City. During the rally, Duterte told the crowd "the mayor should have been first" in raping Hamill, who had been gang-raped and later killed by prisoners.

WATCH: Duterte jokes about raped Australian woman

The comment immediately drew condemnation from his rivals as well as Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely who said violence against women is unacceptable.

READ: Australian envoy boos Duterte's rape remark

On Sunday, Duterte confirmed making the remarks but said he will not apologize for something that he did in 1989.

READ: Duterte says sorry to Filipinos; 'rape remarks not a joke'

Duterte's political party, the PDP-Laban, issued two statements of apology to the media but the mayor refused to read the first, saying the apology was wrong.

The mayor, however, confirmed that he is backing the latest letter of apology. "Sundan ko na lang," he said.

READ: Duterte apologizes for rape remark

In his campaign rally in Iloilo City, Duterte also had a message for Catholic bishops who are telling voters not to vote for him in the May 9 polls.

"Sumunod kayo sa mga [Catholic] bishop, sa mga payo nila, wag kayong tumutok sa akin. Kapag bumoto kayo sa akin, pupunta kayo sa impiyerno," he said.

Duterte visited the province of Aklan on Wednesday. He was greeted by heavy security at the Kalibo airport after a Facebook post said there is an alleged plot to assassinate him during a campaign rally.

None of Duterte's spokespersons confirmed that there is a threat on the mayor's life.

Duterte's campaign stops for Wednesday include Boracay Island and Kalibo, Aklan.