Duterte on women’s rights complaint: Go to hell

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Various women’s groups have filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte over his comments on a rape victim.

The letter-complaint – filed by a group representing “women insulted, shocked and outraged” by the tough-talking mayor’s remarks – urged the CHR to probe Duterte for violating the Magna Carta of Women.

They said Duterte’s actions put “in peril the future of many children and young women who are potential victims of violence against women.” 

“What protection and redress would they expect in a society where men tolerate such violation?” the complaint stated.

Campaigning in Kalibo, Aklan, Duterte said the women from Manila were paid to go to the CHR, and told them, “You go to hell.”

While the CHR has no prosecution powers, it can investigate complaints of discrimination and violation of women’s rights, assist in the filing of appropriate cases as well as recommend to the Office of the President or the Civil Service Commission any possible administrative action against any individual being investigated for possible violation of the law.

The complainants are human rights activist Edna Aquino, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, the World March of Women-Philippines, the Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights, Woman Health Philippines, SARILAYA, Sagip-Ilog Pilipinas, SENTRO, LEARN and PILIPINA.

CHR chairman Chito Gascon said the Magna Carta for Women tasks the agency to monitor the Philippine Commission on Women and other state agencies in developing indicators and guidelines as part of their compliance with their duties related to protecting the rights of women.

“The next step is to give the respondent a copy of the complaint and ask for his comment,” Gascon said in Filipino.

Earlier, lawyer Twyla Rubin of the CHR center for gender equality and women’s human rights stressed that rape is a serious and grave human rights violation and should never be a laughing matter.

“Rape is rape,” she said in a phone interview with The STAR. “It should not be made a subject of a joke.”

Anger continues

Condemnation of Duterte continues with the camp of Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II calling him an embarrassment to the nation and a threat to the security and well-being of overseas Filipino workers.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, Roxas’ spokesman, said many Filipinos abroad could be subject to ridicule or even attacks because of Duterte’s statements.

He recalled Duterte’s remarks challenging China to a fistfight and his comments on drugs and violence in Mexico. The latest blunder, he said, was his making a joke about the rape and killing of an Australian missionary in Davao City in 1989.

“Our countrymen are being shamed before their colleagues and bosses. But for the mayor, he does not care how much shame he brings to our countrymen, so long as he comes out as correct and a hero,” Gutierrez said.

He also pointed to Duterte’s admission that he did not authorize the issuance of an official apology.

Former Negros governor Lito Coscolluela, for his part, challenged Duterte to a fistfight “man to man if he is really tough just like how he portrays himself in public.”

“Take away your goons and let’s fight like real men. Let’s see if you can really fight like the man you say you are,” Conscolluela posted on Facebook.

He said Duterte is all talk but has no courage to fight crime lords and communist insurgents who control huge portions of Davao City.

He said Duterte has managed to beguile a lot of Filipinos with his alleged toughness and what some perceive as his no-nonsense approach to fighting crime but in reality, he has nothing to show to prove that Davao City is better than most key cities in the Philippines, including Bacolod City.

“When you insult women with your vile behavior, I think of my loving mother, my only daughter, my caring wife and my many decent women relatives and friends. I know they are insulted, and I am insulted too,” Coscolluela said in his post.

“When you insult gays by your demeaning reference to ‘bayot (gay),’ I feel just as insulted as my brother-in-law who is gay and decent. When you insult maids with your dirty venial sin joke, you insult not only the kasambahay we try to dignify through higher pay and respect for their personhood, you insult an entire nation, including me, because our sense of and desire for decency is violated,” he added.

“The truth is, your demeanor is an insult to the Code of Ethics for Public Servants. With all due respect to your followers, I am calling on every decent Filipino to say enough! I ask them to keep you away from our children, away from our women and away from Malacañang,” he stressed.

Pinoys abroad beware

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay also voiced concern over the repercussions of Duterte’s remarks on Filipinos abroad.

Binay said the mayor’s “tasteless joke” and the laughter it elicited from his supporters – both men and women – could be interpreted by foreigners as a reflection of Filipino men’s regard for women or Filipino women’s view of themselves.

The chairperson of the House committee on women and gender equality joined the chorus of denunciation of Duterte.

“As a woman and advocate for women’s rights, I denounce in no uncertain terms the trivialization of rape and rape victims. It has never been and should never be made a laughing matter,” Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica said.

“It is chilling to imagine the power that we shall surrender to the hands of this man if elected. For indeed, rape is not about sex; it is all about the power to dehumanize,” she said.

For Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, a Duterte election victory would show that Filipino voters have come to accept that evil could be fought with evil.

“We all know that you could not do good by using evil and extrajudicial killing is also a crime. You cannot solve crime by the use of crime,” said Pabillo.

Pabillo clarified that he is not against a Duterte presidency but “what I am saying is that this kind of point-of-view is alarming.”

Retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani said Duterte’s ways have become acceptable to many Filipinos because of “failure of the institution to curb crime in our society today. “

“That is why people are so frustrated so they don’t want to pass through institutions anymore,” he said.

Meanwhile, former senator Panfilo Lacson said Duterte is unlikely to make good his promise to suppress crime within six months.

“This is not to take away anything from Mayor Duterte. But I’m sorry to say that his plan to stop or even suppress crime within three months to six months is not doable,” he told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Lacson was once the nation’s top crime fighter as chief of the Philippine National Police during the Estrada administration.

Based on his experience, he said gathering intelligence information alone and building a case against suspected criminals could take more than six months.

Lacson pointed out that Duterte “knows in his heart of hearts that his promise cannot be done.”

Agri-group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) also expressed doubts on Duterte’s making good his promise to eliminate crime within his first three to six months in office.

SINAG president Rosendo So said Duterte’s chief political strategist, Lito Banayo, has been implicated in rice smuggling himself.

So said that in February 2013, graft charges were recommended for filing against Banayo, former chief of the National Food Authority.

Citing results of a Senate inquiry, So said a major rice cartel was able to operate in the country right under Banayo’s nose by using farmers’ cooperatives as willing dummies to bankroll its rice smuggling operations.

He said another Duterte “threat” that has fallen by the wayside was the one he made against the likes of alleged rice smuggling king Davidson Bangayan, alias David Tan.

Bangayan was at the center of a Senate probe that also involved Banayo.

Citing reports, So said Bangayan was frequently visiting Davao City recently. - With Paolo Romero, Alexis Romero, Evelyn Macairan, Jess Diaz, Helen Flores, Danny Dangcalan, Eva Visperas, Ding Cervantes

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