HUMAN rights groups have condemned the Philippine president for saying troops should shoot female communist rebels in the genitals to render them “useless”.

In a rambling speech before surrendered communist rebels, Rodrigo Duterte spoke about the futility of their decades-old insurgency and how his administration could help them return to normal life.

He also asked why women join the insurgency and abandon their families.

At one point, he said without elaborating: “Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina so that ... if there is no vagina, it would be useless.” The remarks elicited laughter from the audience.

Duterte spoke in the Bisaya dialect. An official transcript of the president’s speech issued by the government omitted the word “vagina” and expletives from his remarks.

Left-wing group Karapatan said Duterte “has distinguished himself as a frothing-in-the-mouth fascist who incites the worst violations of international humanitarian law”.

US-based group Human Rights Watch said the remark was the latest in a “series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements he has made about women” that encourage state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflicts.