In Depth

Duterte: ‘I was gay’ and other outrageous comments by the president

Philippines strongman claims he ‘cured’ himself of homosexuality

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sparked outrage once again by claiming that he was “cured” of being gay by beautiful women.

The controversial leader made the bizarre comment in a speech in Tokyo as he “attempted to mock one of his strongest critics, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, by implying he was gay”, reports The Independent.

Addressing members of Japan’s Filipino community, the president claimed that someone had told him the way Trillanes moved suggested he was a homosexual, according to Philippines-based news site Rappler.

“Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself,” Duterte continued. “When I began a relationship with [ex-wife Elizabeth] Zimmerman, I said, this is it. I became a man again.”

Duterte swept to power in 2016 on a platform of hard-line authoritarianism, spearheaded by a policy encouraging the extrajudicial killing of people thought to be involved in the drug trade.

He has favourably compared his killing of alleged criminals to Hitler’s murder of six million Jews, has spoken in favour of death squads, and admitted live on TV that he had personally killed people.

Here are some of his most outrageous quotes:

Comparisons with Hitler

In comments that sparked global anger, Duterte likened his campaign against drug dealers to the Holocaust, saying he would kill as many drug dealers as Hitler did Jews.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said in September 2016, just months after taking power. “At least Germany had Hitler. The Philippines wouldn’t.”

Swipes at Obama

Just weeks before the Hitler row, then-US president Barack Obama had stated his intention to raise the issue of drug-related extrajudicial killings in the Philippines during a one-to-one discussion with Duterte.

But ahead of their scheduled meeting at a UN summit, Duterte issued a warning to the US president that the topic was not open for discussion, and that Obama “must be respectful”.

“Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” he said.

Obama described the insult as “ugly” and cancelled the scheduled talks, saying he preferred “constructive, productive conversations”.

Cursing God

In a televised speech in July 2018, Duterte questioned the Bible’s story of man’s creation and asked why God created Adam and Eve only to allow them to succumb to temptation that destroyed their purity.

“Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid,” he said. “How can you rationalise a God? Do you believe?”

The president went on to lament “that Adam and Eve’s sin in Christian theology resulted in all the faithful falling from divine grace”, reports the International Business Times.

“You were not involved but now you’re stained with an original sin... What kind of a religion is that? That’s what I can’t accept, very stupid proposition,” he said.

Joking about rape

Duterte made a controversial joke during his presidential election campaign about the 1989 rape and murder of a woman in Davao City, where he had previously served as mayor.

Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill was working in a prison in the city when she was raped and killed during a riot by inmates. At a press conference just a month before his election, Duterte said of Hamill: “I saw her face and I thought: ‘Son of a bitch. What a pity...’ I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.”

He has also boasted repeatedly about being a womaniser. “I’m not impotent. What am I supposed to do? Let this hang forever? When I take Viagra, it stands up,” he once said.

Taking a pop at the Pope

Duterte has long offended Christians worldwide with his comments, including his complaints about a visit by the Pope to Manila in 2015.

“We were affected by the traffic. It took us five hours,” the outspoken politician recalled. “I asked why, they said it was closed. I asked who is coming. They answered, the Pope. I wanted to call him: ‘Pope, son of a whore, go home. Do not visit us again.’”

Yet even swearing about the Pope “in the strongly Catholic Philippines did not dent the presidential campaign of Duterte, who then said he would travel to the Vatican to ask for forgiveness, before writing the Pope a letter instead”, reports the BBC.

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