Philippines: Duterte says will sever ties with allies US, Australia over rape remark row

Ambassadors of Australia and the US criticise Duterte for saying he should have been first to rape the 'beautiful' missionary.

Philippine presidential election front-runner Rodrigo Duterte, who made widely condemned remarks about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary, warned he will cut diplomatic ties with the US and Australia.

The ambassadors of Australia and the US criticised Duterte for saying he should have been the first to rape the 'beautiful' missionary. The presidential favourite, who retained the top spot in the latest opinion survey, reacted by asking the ambassadors to shut their mouths.

"If I become president, go ahead and sever it (diplomatic ties)," Duterte said in a campaign speech on Wednesday, the Agence France-Presse reported. Australia and the US are two of closest allies of the Philippines.

"They raped all of the women... there was this Australian lay minister... when they took them out... I saw her face and I thought, 'Son of a bitch. What a pity... they raped her, they all lined up. I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first," Duterte told during the campaign.

As protests soared, the tough-talking Davao City Mayor offered apology for his remarks on Monday.

"I apologize to the Filipino people for my recent remarks in a rally. There was no intention of disrespecting our women and those who have been victims of this horrible crime. Sometimes my mouth can get the better of me," he said.

Australian missionay Jaqueline Hamill was on a ministerial mission in a jail in Davao Metrodiscom, where Duterte was the mayor.

A gang led by hostage taker Felipe Pugoy was in the jail for the kidnap of bus passengers. While inside prison they took three Australian missionaries hostage, including Hamil.

Hamil was gang-raped inside the prison and killed. On learning about her rape and death Duterate exclaimed in anger "They did it ahead of the mayor, kill them all.'

The presidential candidate insisted he did not make the comment jokingly. "I will stick to my guns. I said it in the heat of anger," Duterte said.

"It's my style, it's my mouth. I said it in the heat of anger." But he said he will not say sorry a mistake he did not commit.

According to the Pulse Asia pre-election survey, which was released just three weeks before the election, Duterte led the pack with 32 percent support among the respondents.

The PDP-Laban leader pushed frontrunner Grace Poe to the second spot. Poe won the support of 25 percent of respondents.

At the third spot in the survey were Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and Liberal Party's Manuel Roxas II with 20 percent and 18 percent support, respectively.