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No swearing! Philippines’ Duterte sweet talks Miss Universe hopefuls

The firebrand leader normally makes rambling, off-the-cuff speeches peppered with curses and threats to kill criminals

Published: Updated:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivered a speech without his usual swearing on Monday, telling dozens of Miss Universe contestants they should advance the empowerment of women.

The firebrand leader normally makes rambling, off-the-cuff speeches peppered with curses and threats to kill criminals. He has insulted several world leaders, calling both former US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis "son of a b****".

But he was on his best behavior on Monday, welcoming more than 80 Miss Universe contestants to the presidential palace in the capital, Manila. The Philippines will on Jan. 30 host the pageant for the third time.

He was widely condemned during his election campaign for making a boorish comment about the rape and murder of an Australian woman missionary in 1989.

On Monday, he urged the contestants to use the pageant to "advance women empowerment to a greater audience".

"This is chance for you to make an impact, to inspire change, and even be the change that you wish to see in the world," he said.

The reigning Miss Universe is Filipina-German Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, the third winner from the Philippines.

The competition's live broadcast on Jan. 30 is expected to draw half a billion viewers worldwide, organizers have said.

US President Donald Trump sold the Miss Universe Organization to an agency called WME/IMG in 2015.