It is Duterte’s prerogative to crack rape jokes – police chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief on Monday defended President Rodrigo Duterte from backlash for his rape joke at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation.

Police General Oscar Albayalde — a member of PMA "Sinagtala" Class of 1986 — said that as the country's president, Duterte is free to speak his mind and no one can stop him.

The President is not a stranger to vulgar remarks against women. His jokes against women first gained notoriety in 2016, when he cracked the controversial rape joke about a detained Australian missionary. There were several more sexist tirades after that, including a comment about Vice President Leni Robredo's legs and what his officials defended as a "made up" story about molesting his sleeping househelp.

"Well that's up to the President. He is the President, hindi naman natin puwedeng sabihin sa kanya kung ano ang dapat niyang sabihin at hindi," Albayalde told a media briefing, referring to Duterte's joke. "That's the President of the republic."

[Translation: We cannot tell him what he should and should not say.]

Albayalde did not explicitly answer whether rape jokes are acceptable in the PMA, but he said it was clearly a joke and that Duterte is known to be fond of cracking jokes.

"That's an obvious joke of course 'yung sinasabi niya, tapos rape with robbery with so and so pa. That's an obvious joke, in fairness naman sa ating Presidente. Probably he wants to make everybody happy or probably gusto nya tumawa ang mga tao doon," he said.

[Translation: That's an obvious joke of course, what he said, even saying it was rape with robbery and so on. That's an obvious joke, in fairness to our President. He probably wanted to make everybody happy or probably wanted the people there to laugh.]

The police chief shared the same sentiments as Duterte's spokesman, Sal Panelo.

"He is a mischievous man, he wants to make people laugh. And the fact that people laughed at his jokes, they give a hearty laughter, means that they know that this President is joking," Panelo said.

Duterte on May 26 threw a rape joke while he was in the middle of pardoning outstanding punishments of PMA underclassmen.

"The number one is for rape. P*******a. Ang number two is drugs with rape with robbery. Para sa Muntinlupa 'to. Pangatlo, multiple rape of the women of Baguio, the beautiful ones," he said.

[Translation: The number one is rape. Son of a b***h. Number two is drugs with rape with robbery. This one is for Muntinlupa. Third, multiple rape of the women of Baguio, the beautiful ones.]

The graduating batch of cadets, whose valedictorian is a female Ilocos Native, laughed at the rape joke.

Albayalde said criminal offenses are not part of the pardon being given to PMA cadets since criminal offenses are not being tolerated and may lead to their dismissal from the academy.

Women's group GABRIELA slammed Duterte's latest rape joke, pointing out that he returned to the public eye after a long absence only to utter inappropriate remarks.

Malacañang has tirelessly defended Duterte's sexist remarks, pointing to what it says are his "pro-feminist" policies.

CNN Philippines correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.