WATCH: Duterte apologizes for joke about raped Australian missionary

Presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has apologized for joking about an Australian missionary who was raped and killed 27 years ago.

Critics slammed the presidential front-runner after a video clip of his lengthy speech in a campaign rally at Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City on April 12 showed him using "gutter language" while recalling the 1989 hostage-taking incident at the Metrodiscom Jail in Davao City where an Aussie woman, Jacqueline Hamill, was held hostage and got raped.

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Politician and writer Manny Piñol, one of Duterte's close friends and spokespersons, posted this explanation on Facebook:

"The Australian missionary and 16 others were held hostage by a group of inmates led by Felipe Pugoy, who a few months earlier escaped from the Davao Penal Colony.

Pugoy upon his escape from the Davao Penal Colony located in Davao del Norte, a few kilometres away from the city, held hostage passengers of a bus.

Duterte negotiated for the hostages release by offering himself in exchange which Pugoy accepted but only after he had a knife poked at the mayor's throat.

Duterte later persuaded Pugoy to surrender and he and his companions were brought to the Metrodiscom Jail.

A few months later he and his fellow inmates held hostage the missionaries killing five of them, including the female missionary who was raped.

Duterte personally led the team which assaulted the hostage takers and saved 12 missionaries.

All the hostage takers, including Pugoy, were killed by Duterte and his police team."

In an interview with reporters on Sunday, April 17, Duterte said what he used was a "gutter language."

"That's a cliché, I came from down there. That's how we speak. I'm not a son of the elite," Duterte said in Filipino. He asked for an apology to those who were offended.

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Piñol has these to say:

"While Duterte is a son of the former governor of Davao Province and a public school teacher, he learned the way and the language of the streets because of his association with neighborhood toughies.

As a high school student, Duterte was expelled from the Ateneo de Davao for a series of misdemeanors and admits that he finished high school in seven years. He finished law at San Beda College in Manila and became a tough government anti-graft prosecutor."

He added:

"In previous occasions, Duterte recounted the rape and murder of the missionary in the same way he related it in the Amoranto Stadium but this did not generate the same controversy as it did now that he is running for President.

Close friends of Duterte have advised him to be careful with his choice of words now that he is running for the highest political position in the country."

Amid the controversy, a photo with the words "I would rather choose a bad joke than a bad government" went viral on social media.