Rodrigo Duterte is full of quotable lines that delight the pages of newspapers around the world. But Duterte is more than a few quips—he’s a historical atrocity in the making. Behind every joke that makes a headline, there’s a dark reality in the Philippines, and it’s much more terrifying than you might imagine.
10He Complained That Gang-Rapists Didn’t Let Him Have A Turn
While campaigning for the President, Duterte shared a story about a hostage situation that happened while he was mayor.
“They raped all of the women,” Duterte said. “There was this Australian lay minister . . . I saw her face and I thought, ‘Son of a bitch. What a pity.’ ” He wasn’t upset because she was raped, though—he was upset because he wasn’t invited. “The mayor should have been first.”
He was talking about Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian woman taken hostage by a group of escaped convicts. She was brutally raped and murdered, killed by a gunshot to the back.
His daughter later told the press that she had been a rape victim herself. Duterte, though, just rolled his eyes when the press brought it up. “She is a drama queen,” Duterte said, brushing off his daughter’s rape as a made-up story. “She can’t be raped. She carries a gun.”
9He Promised To Pay For His Mistresses Himself
“If you want me to become your president, you should know everything about me,” Duterte told his supporters. “They are telling me that they heard I am a womanizer. That is very true.”
Duterte had more than one wife, he told the crowd. There was another woman he’d gotten pregnant on a trip to the United States, and he had two other girlfriends on the side. “I do not support them with the money from the government,” he promised, “but from my own money and allowances.”
His mistresses, he said, weren’t expensive. “When I was young, I could do overnight [stays at a hotel], which is more expensive.” Today, though, he “could do a short time only . . . After one erection, that’s it. No more.”
8‘I Don’t Care About Human Rights’
“Forget the laws on human rights,” Duterte told his voters. If elected, he promised, he would 100,000 people in the first months. “It’s going to be bloody.”
The people loved it. Duterte won the election by a landslide, with nearly 15 million votes, and he went through with his promise. Shortly after taking office, he introduced a shoot-to-kill order allowing police to gun down any suspected drug dealers on sight.
He promised that he would dump so many bodies in the bad that “the fish will grow fat.” Bounties were placed on drug dealer’s heads. Any officer who killed a drug lord, he promised, would be paid $ 28,500—and he’s gone through with his promise to pay cops who kill.
7He Compared Himself To Hitler And Idi Amin
When people started to protest against Duterte’s plans to massacre thousands of Filipino people, he didn’t shy from the legacy he knew he’d leave. “Hitler massacred three million Jews,” Duterte told his supporters. “Now, there are three million drug addicts . . . I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
It wasn’t even the only time he gleefully compared himself to a tyrant. Later, he said, “I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin. I am not afraid of human rights. I will not allow my country to go to the dogs.”
Hitler, of course, killed more than six million Jews—but Duterte’s still committed to keeping up. He’s so determined, in fact, the he has set up a public scoreboard so that everyone can keep track of just how many people his police force have killed.
6He Told Obama, ‘Son Of A Bitch, I Will Swear At You’
Barack Obama had planned to meet and talk to Duterte in person, but it didn’t happen. Duterte, anticipating their meeting, publicly warned Obama not to bring up human rights issues. “I do not have any master except the Filipino people. Nobody but nobody,” he declared. “‘You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions.’ Son of a bitch, I will swear at you in that forum.”
In public, Obama laughed it off, saying, “Clearly, he’s a colorful guy,” and he canceled the meeting.
Duterte didn’t back down. Later, at the East Asia summit, he went off his prepared speech and into a tirade about American hypocrisy. While he yelled, he held up pictures of bodies of killed Filipinos from when the country was a US colony.
5He Threatened To Quit The UN And Start His Own Group With China
When the UN criticized Duterte’s take on crime, he got hostile. With his trademark eloquence, Duterte declared, “You do not just go out and give a
He went on to call the UN expert who wanted to investigate him “a very stupid expert” and gave them his list of 10 bad things he can say about the group. He started with calling them inutile.
By the end, Duterte decided he’d go his own way. “Maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations,” he said, before proposing starting his own union and inviting China to join.
4He Called The Pope A ‘Son Of A Whore’
After getting trapped in a traffic jam in Manila, the country’s capital, Duterte asked who could be coming to town that would cause so much gridlock. “They said it was the pope,” Duterte reported. “I wanted to say, Pope, son of a whore, go home. Don’t visit anymore.”
Duterte considered apologizing for a while, but he changed his mind. Instead, he went back on the attack. He went into a tirade against the church, criticizing them for claiming that priests can give absolution for sin. He promised to limit families to three children to go against Catholic doctrines, and declared, “The most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church.”
Duterte has claimed that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was 14. He told the press, “It was a case of fondling—you know what—he did during confession.”
3He Encouraged Civilians To Murder Drug Addicts
“If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself,” Duterte told his people. “Getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”
People on his list get anonymous threats from strangers. One showed a reporter a text message from an unknown number, reading nothing more than, “Bro, just wait. You’ll be next.”
On the streets, dead bodies are piling up, not all of them killed by police. The corpses are often found with the faces bound up in duct tape. Lying on their chests are cardboard signs that read, “I’m a drug pusher. Don’t be like me.”
2He Promised To Kill His Children If They Took Drugs
A reporter asked Duterte what he would do if he caught his own children taking drugs. He probably thought he’d catch Duterte off-guard, but Duterte didn’t hesitate. He replied, “I will kill him.”
He hasn’t had to kill his own children yet—but he has killed other people’s kids. Four-year-old Althea Barbon was gunned down by Duterte’s police because her father was on a suspect list. She was sitting on the back of her father’s motorcycle, hugging him tightly as he took her to get popcorn, when police spotted her father.
Duterte’s “shoot-to-kill” order meant that the police didn’t have to ask questions or pull their suspect over—they could just open fire. A five-year-old was gunned down shortly later, this time by vigilantes head-hunting her grandfather.
1He Promised To Pardon Himself For Murder
Duterte knows he’s going to have a hard time when he gets out of office—but he’s ready. He has explained to the public that, as president, he has the power to pardon any criminal he wants. He has already promised to “issue 1,000 pardons a day” to police charged with brutality and human rights abuses.
Duterte might need to pardon himself as well. Duterte has publicly boasted that he shot a classmate in college for hitting him in the nose. He was expelled for the shooting but never faced prison.
In the Philippines, the President does have the power to pardon himself. “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder,” he joked in front of a crowd. “Signed, Rodrigo Duterte.”