Roque on Duterte's 'shoot the vagina' remark: 'Don't take him literally'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said people should not take President Rodrigo Duterte's remark on shooting female communist rebels in the vagina literally.

"Dapat kakilala na natin ang Presidente [We should already know the President]," Roque said in a Tuesday press conference. "Do not take the President literally, but take him seriously."

Duterte made the remark before former communist rebels in a Feb. 7 speech in Malacañang.

"Ingna ang mga sundalo. "Ah, unsa man nang mga babae." Ingna sila. Tawga run ang mga sundalo. "Order bag-o ni mayor. Di lang daw mo patyon. Pusilon lang mo sa bisong arong ---" Og wa na ma'y bisong, wa na ma'y silbi," he said.

[Translation: Tell the soldiers. "There's a new order coming from mayor. We won't kill you. We will just shoot your vagina, so that …' If there is no vagina, it would be useless."]

Roque said Duterte's message focused on government efforts to wage war with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, following the breakdown of peace talks with the group.

Related: Duterte: Destroy the NPA

Roque added that Duterte, who is known for his foul mouth, respects women, as shown by his order to impose a total deployment ban in Kuwait.

"Kung ang Presidente po ay labag sa kapakanan ng mga kababaihan ay hindi po niya dapat ipinagutos yung pagpigil ng deployment ng ating mga kababayan sa Kuwait dahil ang mga nabibiktima po sa Kuwait karamihan po mga kababaihan natin," he said.

[Translation: If the President really didn't care about the welfare of women, then he would not have ordered a deployment ban to Kuwait because many of the victims of abuses in Kuwait are women.]

Duterte ordered the deployment ban after authorities discovered the body of a Filipina inside the freezer of her employers in Kuwait and amid the investigation on seven Filipino household workers killed in the Gulf state.

Read: DOLE orders total ban on deployment of OFWs to Kuwait

'A gift that keeps on giving'

But Sen. Leila De Lima, one of Duterte's fiercest critics, said the President's remarks reflect his personality as "sex-obsessed sociopath who thinks women are only useful if they can give birth and raise children."

"A few days before Valentine's Day, Duterte has again demonstrated that he is a gift that keeps on giving — a gift as unwanted as misogyny, pointless violence, and assault against law, human rights and human decency inflicted upon an unwilling audience," De Lima said in a Tuesday statement.

The senator likewise called on the military not to allow Duterte's "brutality and bloodlust" to take hold of them.

"They will be weaponized to become the very monsters and inflict the very same horrors that they have sworn to protect the state against," she said. "I will go out on a limb and say that that is not what they are sacrificing their lives and their family's happiness for."

Women's group Akbayan Women likewise slammed Duterte's remarks, calling it "deeply disturbing."

"For his violent public statements, it is no surprise that President Duterte is being examined for 'crimes against humanity' by the International Criminal Court," the group said in a Monday statement. "It seems that the sexist Duterte government is addicted to acts of violence against women."

The group was pertaining to the International Criminal Court's preliminary examination of the government's controversial war on drugs.

Read: Int'l Criminal Court to begin preliminary examination on PH killings

Meanwhile, international human rights group Human Rights Watch said in a Monday statement is just "the latest in a series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements he has made about women."

"It encourages state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict, which is a violation of international humanitarian law," said HRW Philippine Researcher Carlos Conde.