ILOILO CITY (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque has dismissed as "a joke" the President's statement before Indian businessmen that he would make virgins a "come-on" to foreign investors and visitors to the Philippines.
"That was clearly said in jest. There's no need to clarify what was really a joke made by the President. If you don't mind!" the presidential spokesman said after being asked to comment in a press briefing on Sunday (Jan 28) on the sidelines of the Dinagyang Festival.
Duterte made the statement made during his visit to India last week.
"It must have been said in joke. I'm sure it was said in jest. So it's not just right, I am sure it was a joke. Come on," Roque said when pressed further.
The President made the statement in relation to his criticisms against the ideology of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"And the come-on is that if you die a martyr, you go to heaven with 42 virgins waiting for you… Well, if I could just make it a come-on also for those who would like to go to my country," Duterte had said.
Duterte drew criticisms from women and other groups in the country and internationally over a statement he made during the campaign period in 2016 on the rape of an Australian lay missionary during a hostage crisis in 1989 at a jail in Davao City.
Jacqueline Hamill was among the four hostages who died in the two-day hostage drama when government forces attacked the prison cell and killed the hostage killers.
"Son of a bitch, what a waste. I was thinking that they raped her and lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first, what a waste," the President said during his campaign.