BLOODY HOSTAGE DRAMA This photo taken on Aug. 15, 1989, by former Inquirer chief photographer Boy Cabrido shows Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill and other hostages used as human shields by armed inmates at the Metrodiscom detention center in Camp Leonor in Davao City. Hamill was gang-raped by her abductors. Duterte  suggested that because he was mayor he should have been given the first opportunity to assault the woman.INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Philippines

Voices from the Diaspora

Opinion

By Ted Alcuitas

“We call on all Filipinos to rise up against a president who spits on everything our ancestors fought and died for.” – #BabaeAko

I write this in anger and rage being the father of three daughters whom my wife and I raised to value human rights.

They are children of the nation, Luningning, Ligaya and Lualhati.

We have nurtured them to be proud of their heritage and all of them have contributed in their own way to honour that.

Today I am at a loss to explain what is happening to the land of their parents.

After a week of devastating revelations of sexual abuse  and cover-up by clergy in Pennsylvania, comes another rape ‘joke’ by the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.

“They said there are many rape cases in Davao,” the president said on August 28. “As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases.”

Davao City, where Duterte was former mayor before becoming President in 2016, recorded 95 reports of rape in the year’s first half, down from 120 in the same period in 2017. 

Two are raped every minute 

According to Inday Espina-Varona of ABS-CBN News, majority of the victims were children, with more than half of the perpetrators related to them.

“This is a pattern that has held for a long time in the country. Children make up 77 percent of rape survivors in the Philippines, and the crime occurs at a rate of two every minute, citing a 2016 report by the Center for Women’s Resources.

“Instead of seriously addressing the problem, the misogynist Duterte has added insult to the scars of rape survivors,” a coalition of a women’s groups called #BabaeAko (I Am Woman), said in a statement.

Arguing that rape has nothing to do with physical appearance, the group accused Duterte of victim-shaming and of blaming women for their rapes.

“Rape is a heinous crime based on entitlement and on the false assumption that women are chattel, to be owned, to be punished according to the whims of men,” it said.

Harry Roque, former man rights lawyer-turned Duterte spokesman, tried to limit the fallout from the president’s comments, suggesting he was not a misogynist because he had appointed several women to key positions in his government.

“I don’t think we should give too much weight on what the president says by way of a joke,” Roque said, adding that residents of the southern Philippines tended to be less easily offended than their compatriots in the capital.

“They’re not OK with rape jokes,” Roque said, “but let’s just say that perhaps the standard of what is offensive and what is not offensive is more liberal in the south.”

Close to 8 million!

That’s the number of articles about ‘Duterte/rape’ in Google – 7,780,000 to be exact.

Mr. Duterte, who assumed power nationally in 2016, has routinely made headlines around the world for two reasons: a violent crackdown on drug users and dealers which has left thousands of people dead, and a penchant for delivering remarks that many people find offensive, including some about violence against women.

This was not the first time Duterte has appeared to demean women. During his presidential campaign, he joked about the gang rape of an Australian missionary during a prison riot, suggesting that because he was mayor he should have been given the first opportunity to assault the woman.

He called his own daughter, Sara Duterte, a “drama queen” when she confessed that she had been a victim of sexual assault.

He also ordered soldiers last year to shoot female communist guerrillas in their vaginas to discourage them from joining the New People’s Army, a communist rebel force that has been waging an insurgency since 1969.

The president has also claimed to have seen a sex tape of one of his leading critics, Sen. Leila De Lima, who is serving a prison sentence for what she says is a trumped-up charge of protecting drug lords.

“This country does not deserve a president who willfully breaks our laws and encourages others to do the same, because his notion of power stops at coercive force,” #BabaeAko, the women’s group, said.

“We call on all Filipinos to rise up against a president who spits on everything our ancestors fought and died for,” it added.