Philippines president Duterte urged to resign after disgusting confession that he reached into his maid's underwear as she slept
Women's rights organizations have denounced the "repulsive" comments and called for his resignation, arguing the 73-year-old had confessed to rape
Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial and often headline-grabbing president of the Philippines, is not one to shy away from speaking what's on his mind, and this has often included distasteful rape and adultery jokes that have made him extremely unpopular with women's rights organizations.
His latest statements, however, have seen the 73-year-old accused of rape. According to the Daily Mail, in a recent speech where he slammed the Catholic Church over widespread allegations of abusing children, Duterte offered up a confession he made to a priest in his youngers years to the audience and seemingly described molesting a maid.
He said he entered the room of the maid while she was sleeping and touched her under her skirt. "I lifted the blanket... I tried to touch what was inside the panty," he said. "I was touching. She woke up. So I left the room," adding he later returned to the room and again tried to molest her.
The comments understandably sparked a furious reaction from numerous quarters, with women's rights political party Gabriela denouncing the "repulsive" comments and calling for his resignation, arguing the 73-year-old had confessed to rape. "Rape does not happen only through penile insertion," said Joms Salvador, the secretary general of the party, in a statement. "If it is a finger or an object it is still considered rape."
Labor organization Sentro also released a statement saying Duterte had no capacity to change. "Mr. Duterte's recent admission of practically trying to rape a sleeping domestic worker when he was a young man only proves he has no capacity to change," it read. "He remains as disrespectful to women as when he was a younger man. Normalizing this despicable behavior is very dangerous for all domestic workers, here and abroad, and for all women, in general."
Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, brushed aside the criticism and said the president had "made up" and "added and spliced" the story for dramatic effect. "He has made up a laughable anecdote to dramatize the fact of sexual abuse that was inflicted on him and his fellow students when they were in high school," he said.
The "confession" had come as Duterte continued his offensive against the Catholic Church, which he previously branded as the "most hypocritical institution" in the country. He said he and his classmates were molested during their confessions, seemingly in response to the church's disapproval of his violent domestic drug policies that initiated the Philippine Drug War and have so far, by official estimates alone, resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 people.
However, CNN reported that the 73-year-old's comments about the Catholic Church have gotten him in trouble with the voters because of the country's demographic that sees more than 80% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic. He promised to repair relations with the Catholic community after calling God "stupid" in one of his speeches, a faux pas his former spokesman had also attributed to Duterte being molested by a priest in school.