DAVAO CITY (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has defended his colourful language, saying he cannot help being rude to those who insult him and that it was "too late" for him to change his behaviour.
"Be rude to me and I will be rude to you," he said on Friday (Jan 12). "That's why I'm rude because they tend to insult me... My mouth is really foul especially when you piss me off."
The president has been known to curse and berate those who criticise him and his government, including those who raise concerns about extra-judicial killings in his war on drugs.
Mr Duterte said there were times when he did not act like a statesman because "the mindset that I have, that of a mayor, I brought it to the presidency... And I realised that being President, you cannot say 'son of a whore'".
The president said the people should just accept him for what he was as it was "too late" for him to change.
"It's in the persona embedded deeply in the psychic mind. I can no longer do anything about that," said Mr Duterte, who was speaking during a government official's birthday celebration.
He said even when he became President, he always spoke "like a mayor."
"And that is why to everybody who addresses me as President, I would reply something like, 'Please do not call me President. Just call me mayor,'" he said.
Aside from cursing in public, Duterte is known to often crack jokes and even make sexist remarks. He was particularly criticised for catcalling a television reporter during a live press conference in May 2016.
Several female administration officials defended the president last year (2017), saying women should be more forgiving about his catcalling and sexist remarks. One said what matters is that Mr Duterte has a "heart that cares" for the people.