DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed to pardon himself for mass murder and joked about his penis as he took his profanity-laced campaign to the nation’s business elite.
Duterte also hit out again at the United States and Australia, key Philippine allies, after warning last week he would be prepared to sever diplomatic ties because their ambassadors spoke out against a joke he made about raping a missionary who was later murdered.
Duterte has shocked the political establishment in recent weeks — surging to a clear lead in opinion surveys before the May 9 presidential elections with a campaign stump speech full of swear words and promises to end crime by killing tens of thousands of criminals.
In an address to the nation’s premier group of business figures on Wednesday, Duterte defended his history of womanizing with typical straight-talking and crassness.
“I was separated from my wife. I’m not impotent. What am I supposed to do? Let this hang forever,” he said, referring to his penis, as people in the crowd laughed.
“When I take Viagra, it stands up.”
Duterte, 71, earlier on the campaign trail said he had two mistresses but reassured taxpayers they would not cost much, because he kept them at cheap boarding houses and took them to short-time hotels for sex.
He has also boasted about running vigilante death squads during his many years as mayor of Davao, the biggest city in southern Philippines.
Duterte once said the death squads had killed 1,700 people.
He, however he has at other times denied any links to the vigilante groups, which have attracted fierce criticism from human rights groups and the United Nations.
Mass murder pardons
A key part of Duterte’s campaign has been a pledge to eradicate crime nationwide in the first six months of his presidency by ordering security forces to kill criminals.
In his speech to the Makati Business Club, Duterte again promised that his presidency “will be a bloody one”.
He promised to pardon soldiers or police officers if they were charged with rights abuses.
“I will issue 1,000 pardons a day,” Duterte said.
He said the Constitution allows the President to pardon himself for crimes, and he would do so at the end of his term.
“Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte,” the mayor added.
Surveys have shown Duterte is particularly popular among the nation’s wealthy and middle class, who fear rising crime.
On Wednesday, he criticized the US and Australia for failing to do more as China expands its presence in areas of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that are also claimed by the Philippines.
“Why the hell didn’t Australia, the Americans or even Japan stop it?” Duterte said.