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Philippines’ President-Elect to Personally Apologize to Pope

FILE - Philippine presidential race front-runner Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his final campaign rally in Manila, Philippines, May 7, 2016.

Philippines president-elect Rodrigo Duterte plans to visit Vatican City personally to apologize for calling the pope a “son of a whore” last year, his spokesman said.

Duterte, the foul-mouthed longtime mayor of Davao City, made the comment last year when a visit from the pope caused massive traffic congestion in the already heavily trafficked city of Manila.

At the start of the pope’s visit in January 2015, Duterte said it took him five hours to travel across the city. Duterte said he wanted to call the pope and tell him: “Pope, you son of a whore, go home. Do not visit us anymore.”

Duterte has already apologized to the pope in a letter, from which he received a response from the Vatican that the pope would pray for him.

While no date has been set for Duterte’s Vatican trip, his spokesman called it a top priority.

Not even cursing at the pope could keep Duterte from winning the presidency in the heavily Catholic Philippines. He won a landslide election Monday following a campaign that was highlighted by foul language and a joke about the gang rape of an Australian missionary.

In 1989, during Duterte’s time as mayor of Davao, an Australian missionary was sexually assaulted and murdered during a riot at the city jail. Joking on the campaign trail earlier this year, Duterte called the murdered missionary “beautiful,” and said since he was mayor, he “should have been first” to rape her.

He’s also promised to kill thousands of criminals in an effort to crack down on crime.