Manila: The Philippines hardline President, Rodrigo Duterte, has once again sparked a controversy by making a violent, misogynistic comment about female rebels.
According to international media reports, President Duterte had told Philippine soldiers to shoot female rebels in their vaginas.
"Tell the soldiers: 'There's a new order coming from the mayor. We won't kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,'' Duterte had said last week during a speech to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
"If there is no vagina, it would be useless," he added, appearing to suggest that women's genitals are what makes them useful, according to the international media reports.
Duterte, who had earlier served as a city mayor before becoming President, was addressing a group of former communist rebels during which he appeared to encourage the soldiers to target women in conflict.
Duterte's controversial comment was included in an official transcript of the speech released by the Presidential Communications Office.
However, the word "vagina" was replaced with a dash in the transcript.
This is not the first time that Duterte has made controversial and misogynistic remarks. Last summer, his rape joke about Miss Universe was widely condemned.
"What I don't like are kids [being raped]," he said. "You can mess with, maybe a Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know you are going to die."
He also told Muslim fighters in Marawi that they could rape up to three women without fear of punishment.
In the run-up to the presidential election, Duterte sparked outrage by saying that he, as mayor of Davao, "should have been first" to rape an Australian missionary in jail in 1989.
"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," he said.
Since he came to power on a promise to kill all the country’s drug users and dealers, thousands of Filipinos have been shot dead, prompting the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary examination.
Duterte regularly denigrates and threatens women, but when challenged, insists it was all ''just a joke''.
Just last week his spokesman, Harry Roque, accused women of “overreacting” to the President’s comments. “I mean, that’s funny. Come on. Just laugh,” he said.
According to the official transcript from the February 7 event, the crowd did, in fact, laugh.
Several women's rights activists have condemned Duterte's latest violent remark.
(With Agency inputs)