MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion that soldiers should shoot female rebels “in the vagina” should be taken “not literally but seriously,” his spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday, February 13.
Duterte’s comment, made during a speech to more than 200 former rebels in Malacañang, has drawn outrage from many quarters, including a warning from human rights advocates and the New People’s Army itself that he was inciting the commission of war crimes.
Recently, the International Criminal Court also said it was starting a preliminary examination into hundreds of alleged extrajudicial killings Duterte is accused of ordering from when he was mayor of Davao City to the beginning of the “war against drugs” he began waging on becoming president.
“Huwag po nating tanggapin na literal ang sinasabi ng Presidente per seryosohin natin siya (Let’s not take wha the President says literally but let us take him seriously),” Roque said at a press conference in Kalinga when asked to explain Duterte’s remark.
Roque said people should be used to Duterte’s style of speaking after a year and a half as president.
He added that the point Duterte was trying to make was since there is no longer a chance of resuming peace talks with the communists, war with the rebels should be expected to resume.
He also said Duterte’s concern for women was evident in his repatriation of Filipino workers from Kuwait.