Joking about castration, Philippine leader takes on the church

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks before employees at Davao City hall a few days before he assumes office as a Philippine president, in Davao city, in southern Philippines, June 27, 2016.


MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine president-elect says he will aggressively promote artificial birth control in the country even at the risk of getting in a fight with the dominant Catholic church, which staunchly opposes the use of contraceptives.

Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that having many children has driven families deeper into poverty, and he reiterated his recommendation for Filipinos to have three at most.

Duterte jokingly threatened to have penises of defiant men chopped off and cited his family planning program as a longtime mayor in southern Davao city, where he has offered cash rewards to villagers who volunteer to undergo free vasectomy or ligation.

Many politicians have tried to avoid colliding with influential Catholic bishops in the Philippines by taking a vague position or not aggressively pushing the use of contraceptives.

Critics have long dubbed Duterte the "Filipino Donald Trump" for his irreverent political style and aggressive nature. He's been called a "butcher" for advocating the murder of drug traffickers and other criminals.

Duterte, 71, won the May 9 presidential election on a bold promise to end crime and corruption within six months of his presidency.

That vow resonated among crime-weary Filipinos, though police officials considered it campaign rhetoric that was impossible to accomplish.