Philippines president claims he sexually assaulted maid as a teenager
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Philippines president claims he sexually assaulted maid as a teenager

Duterte under fire after retelling story about twice attempting to molest domestic worker while she slept

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech the 117th police anniversary celebration at the national headquarters in Manila on August 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ted Aljibe)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech the 117th police anniversary celebration at the national headquarters in Manila on August 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ted Aljibe)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte drew outrage Sunday after saying he “touched” his maid when he was a teenager, with women’s rights groups accusing him of attempted rape and encouraging sexual abuse.

Duterte frequently sparks uproar with his comments on women, including rape jokes and boasting about adultery.

In his latest remarks, Duterte recounted a confession he had with a priest in high school, detailing how he had entered the room of his maid while she was sleeping.

“I lifted the blanket… I tried to touch what was inside the panty,” Duterte said in a speech late Saturday. “I was touching. She woke up. So I left the room.”

Duterte recounted telling the priest that he had then returned to the maid’s room and again tried to molest her.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, jokes to photographers as he holds an Israeli-made Galil rifle which was presented to him by former Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa at the turnover-of-command ceremony at the Camp Crame in Quezon city northeast of Manila, April 19, 2018. (Bullit Marquez/AP)

The Philippine women’s rights political party Gabriela denounced Duterte’s “repulsive” comments and called for him to resign, saying he had confessed to attempted rape.

“Rape does not happen only through penile insertion. If it is a finger or an object it is considered rape,” said Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela.

Responding to the criticism, Duterte’s spokesman said Sunday that the president had “made up” and “added and spliced” the story.

“He has made up a laughable anecdote to dramatize the fact of sexual abuse that was inflicted on him and his fellow students when they were in high school,” said Salvador Panelo.

Israelis protest against the visit of Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on September 4, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Duterte, 73, made the remarks as he blasted the Catholic Church over allegations of sexually abusing children.

The president, who brands the church the “most hypocritical institution” in the mainly Catholic nation, said Saturday that he and his classmates at school were molested during confession.

It was his latest tirade against bishops and priests who have been critical of his drug war, which has left more than 5,000 people dead, according to official figures.

Duterte and his aides often dismiss his controversial statements about women as a “joke” or insist they are taken out of context.

Duterte provoked fury in 2016 when during an election campaign speech he said he had wanted to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who had been murdered in a Philippine prison riot.

Women’s advocates said Duterte’s latest comments endangered domestic workers.

More than a million Filipinos work abroad as domestic workers, according to the labor ministry.

“Flaunting abusive practices encourages the rape culture and in this case, sexual abuse of domestic workers,” said Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (left) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem during Duterte’s official visit to Israel, September 3, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90/pool)

Facing condemnation for a violent, extrajudicial war on drugs that has claimed some 12,000 lives, overcrowded jails and seen the harassment and prosecution of critics, Duterte has threatened to take the Philippines out of the United Nations. In March, he removed the Philippines from the International Criminal Court.

Duterte controversially visited Israel in September, where he said that his country would thenceforth only buy weapons from the Jewish state due to its lack of restrictions.

The Philippines’ leader’s visit was criticized due to comments he made in 2016, when he said he would “be happy to slaughter” millions of drug users in his country and likened himself in that context to Adolf Hitler, who also slaughtered millions.

Duterte later called Hitler “insane” during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

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