Human rights organizations blasted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday for suggesting his troops shoot female rebels in the vagina to render them "useless."
“Duterte has distinguished himself as a frothing-in-the-mouth fascist who incites the worst violations of international humanitarian law," said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the Philippine rights group Karapatan.
Duterte, in remarks last week to a crowd that included about 200 former rebels, suggested his soldiers be given new orders from "the mayor." Duterte rocketed to fame in his country for conducting a bloody drug war while serving as the hard-nosed mayor of Davao City.
“Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor," Duterte said last week. "We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina so that … if there is no vagina, it would be useless.”
Palabay accused Duterte of making a series of recent statements — some delivered in the presence of soldiers — that incite war crimes, with Duterte promising immunity for his troops. He also encouraged the non-Muslim Lumad in southern Philippines to kill members of the rebel New People's Army.
Duterte suggested he would pay the equivalent of almost $400 for "every NPA you kill."
"His recent comments and pronouncements are but the latest of the series of these madman’s display of tyranny, lunacy and machismo,” Palabay said.
The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch also accused Duterte of encouraging state forces to violate international law by committing sexual violence during armed conflict.
Carlos Conde, of the group's Asia Division, described Duterte's comment on female rebels as "just the latest in a series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements he has made about women."
Duterte's presidency has been marked by frequent, outrageous comments. Angered over suggestions that then-President Obama might challenge him over human rights issues, he described Obama as a "son of a whore."
He once compared his war on drugs to Hitler's brutal campaign against Jews, saying he would be "happy to slaughter" his own nation's 3 million drug addicts. "At least Germany had Hitler," he said.
But Duterte's tough-guy image has the support of many Filipinos. A December survey by the Philippine pollster Social Weather Stations showed almost 80% of Filipinos were satisfied with the government — the highest rating in three decades.