Duterte’s rape comment sets off firestorm
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – It sounded like a joke, and it was a bad one.

Recorded comments by presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte about a woman who was raped and killed has set off a firestorm of condemnation, not just from outraged Netizens but also from Malacañang, three presidential candidates, at least one senator and a women’s group.

The Davao City mayor, currently the front-runner in the race, was lambasted for his alleged lack of respect for women as seen in a video posted on YouTube. The heading of the video clip contained his rermark about an Australian woman who was raped and killed in a hostage incident at the Davao prison in 1989:

 Napakaganda, Dapat Mayor ang Mauna.”

In the minute-long video that “Beatboxer ng Pinas” posted last Saturday, which has since gone viral, the tough-talking mayor was shown at a political rally last week in Quezon City.

He was narrating the case of Jacqueline Hamill, 36, an Australian lay missionary who was raped and had her throat slashed by the inmates before troops stormed the prison.

 In his speech, Duterte said he was enraged by the incident. He then commented that the victim looked like a beautiful American actress and that he should “have been first.”

Malacañang said the incident showed that Duterte “is unfit for the presidency.”

“Since he first served as mayor (he was elected for the 1988-1992 term), he has not matured nor evolved, and that his offer to serve as president truly deserves serious scrutiny,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma said. Coloma also heads the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

“He makes fun of, and trivializes the rape and killing, of a female missionary from a foreign land who was part of a team made up mostly of women and who were doing their part in reforming convicted prison inmates,” Coloma added.

 According to him, this attitude as shown in public “speaks volumes not just about his utter lack of respect for women, which was already well-known even before he launched his candidacy. 

 “He (also) does not respect nor care for the sensitivities of the countries with whom the Philippines maintains cordial and cooperative relations,” Coloma added, in reference to the nationality of the rape victim.

“Instead of being concerned about the breach of prison security in Davao City, he laments that as mayor, he was upstaged by the prison inmates who committed the heinous crimes of rape and murder,” he said.

 Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard-bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) was also outraged. “The rape and murder of women is not funny. Mister Duterte, don’t you have a mother, don’t you have a daughter?” the Vice President said in Filipino.

 “Your statement is simply revolting. Nothing can justify such callous remarks,” he said.

 “You were disappointed that you were not able to rape an Australian lay minister. You even bragged about raping a household helper. You are a crazy maniac who doesn’t respect women and doesn’t deserve to be president,” Binay said.

 Sen. Grace Poe also minced no words against her number-one rival while campaigning in Lubao, Pampanga. 

“As a woman, I take offense at this statement of Mayor Duterte about the rape victim,” she said.

Poe found Duterte’s remarks as “coarse and unacceptable,” adding that it shows his lack of respect for women. “No one, whoever she is and whatever her looks may be, deserves to be raped and abused. Rape is a crime and no laughing matter. We should all be outraged at abuses against women.”

While some may seem impressed with the mayor’s nonchalance and tough-talking stance, Poe said Duterte should be reminded that “at all times, women, men and  LGBTs alike should be treated with dignity and respect.” Poe has been advocating the rights of women as part of  her campaign platform.

Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas and his runningmate Leni Robredo also slammed the mayor of Davao City.

 “Rape is a serious problem. Anyone who laughs at the ultimate assault on the dignity of women should not be allowed to wield power,” Roxas said in a statement in Filipino.

“Women have rights and they’re not mere playthings. Rape is not funny; it is beastly,” he added.

Robredo said that as a human rights lawyer, she has witnessed many abuses and hardships done against women, whose safety and welfare must always be upheld.

“We must always respect women, especially us who are running to be leaders of our country,” Robredo said. “We public servants must always set a good example for our countrymen.” 

She said she was aghast by Duterte’s comments as it could send a wrong message to the youth. 

Independent candidate for vice president Sen. Francis Escudero also criticized Duterte. “His frequent use of women, regardless of their circumstances, as subject or object of his jokes during his presidential campaign sorties is foul and offensive.”

Escudero described the mayor’s “distasteful attempt to woo voters at the expense of women and by demeaning the dignity of women… We should, at all times, protect and respect the dignity of women and other genders, including LGBTs. We do not want the Philippines to become a haven for women and sex offenders.”

Senatorial aspirant Francis Pangilinan also weighed in on the issue. In a statement in Filipino, he said that he and Mayor Duterte are friends.

“However, he committed a big blunder in making a joke out of a woman who was raped and killed. Because you have made rape a joke and a laughing matter, it’s not far-fetched that people might think that – for Mayor Digong – rape is not a serious matter and he should have committed the rape first, that it is all right to rape somebody.”

He added: “These words should not come from the lips of someone who aspires to be the Father of the country.”

Women’s party-list Gabriela also demanded an immediate apology from Duterte for making the joke about rape.— With Helen Flores, Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero

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