Duterte tells US, Australia: Sever our ties if I become president
"Australian, American ambassadors: Shut your mouth."
That is the message of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte to a pair of ambassadors who have criticized him over his recent remarks about rape that have caused an international firestorm.
The Davao City mayor made the comment on Wednesday, a day after his tirade against Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely, who had criticized him over controversial comments he made regarding the rape and death in 1989 of an Australian missionary at a Davao prison.
"Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialised. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere," Gorely had said.
United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg had chimed in on the criticism.
"I can only agree with the colleague from the Australian Embassy," Goldberg said in a television interview.
"Any statements by anyone, anywhere that either degrade women or trivialize issues so serious as rape or murder, are not ones that we condone," he added.
But Duterte brushed off the criticism, instead saying the envoys had no business talking to him about Philippine affairs.
"Do not interfere because it's election time," said Duterte, the front-runner in recent presidential preference surveys.
Later, when asked whether his statements could affect relationships with the country's allies, Duterte replied: "That's their problem, not mine."
He added: "I never interfere in their elections. If I become president, go ahead and sever it (ties with the Philippines)."
The Philippines counts the US as its closest ally, a relationship that has grown closer over recent tensions with China over disputed territory.
Australia, meanwhile, has backed the US position on China's excursions into the disputed seas.
Asked for comment, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines on Wednesday said it will not issue a statement on the matter. —Cedric Castillo and Michaela del Callar/JST/KG, GMA News