Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte once again sparked outrage on Tuesday during a visit to victims of the Taal Volcano eruption, telling a group of local officials that Batanga’s plethora of “beautiful women” had helped him forget the “many problems” facing his administration.
Duterte made the remarks during a meeting with local government officials at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex in Batangas City on Tuesday, following an eruption of the Taal Volcano that has forced thousands of people to evacuate.
“I have so many problems. When I was in the helicopter, I was thinking about a lot of things, but when I arrived here, they disappeared,” he explained. “Really, I love beautiful women.”
The strongman leader also apologized for arriving in Batanga on Tuesday, explaining that it had not been possible to visit the eruption’s victims because he was unable to fly out of Davao City as a result of the volcano’s ashfall.
“I’m sorry I was not around. I was in Davao,” he explained. “But I was preparing to leave that night, [but] I was informed that I could not make it because of the ash.”
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“So early morning, I insisted that I have to be here because there is a crisis, and I forced the airplane [to fly here],” he continued. “They did something about the runway, they made it wet so that there was less ash that would be seeping into the equipment of the plane.”
The 74-year-old also expressed his satisfaction at the “splendid response” of local authorities to the crisis, given that there have been no reported casualties so far.
“I am very satisfied, I said, with the response of everybody, [and with] the fact that no one was killed and that there’s nobody really sick,” he said, before describing his “pity” for people who had been “covered in ash like zombies.”
LOOK | President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday visits the victims affected by the Taal Volcano's eruption and led the distribution of food packs and livelihood assistance. | PPD Photos @dswdserves #LagingHandaTaal #TaalEruption pic.twitter.com/dr1C4hVcE6
— Phil News Agency (@pnagovph) January 15, 2020
It is not the first time that Duterte has made controversial remarks about women and their appearance. Despite being elected on a platform of law and order, he argued in 2018 that rape cases in his local town of Davao were inevitable because of the high number of beautiful women.
“They said there are many rape cases in Davao. As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases,” he said at the time. “Who agrees to do it on the first request anyway? Will the woman allow it? No … Nobody agrees to do it on the first try. Nobody agrees to do it on the first try. That is rape.”
Last year, he also spoke out about how he was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, adding that he “cured himself” of his homosexuality by meeting beautiful women.
“Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself,” Duterte said, in reference to Senator Antonio Trillanes, a high-profile LGBT critic of his. “I became a man again! So beautiful women cured me. I hated handsome men afterwards. I now prefer beautiful women.”