Philippine press groups denounced President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday for saying journalists were being killed because they were corrupt and “you are not exempted from assassination if you are a son of a bitch”.

Duterte’s comments about extrajudicial killings, calling bishops “sons of whores” and a joke about a murdered rape victim do not appear to have dented his popularity in the largely Roman Catholic country.

But his comments about killing journalists have struck a nerve. About 175 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986, ranking it among the most dangerous places to work in the news business.

Duterte addressed reporters on Tuesday in the southern city of Davao, where his loud approval of hundreds of execution-style killings of drug users and criminals over nearly two decades helped propel him to the highest office.

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