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Duterte vows to uphold Magna Carta of Women on same month as rape 'joke'

Mikas Matsuzawa - Philstar.com
Duterte vows to uphold Magna Carta of Women on same month as rape 'joke'

President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his second state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines, Monday July 24, 2017. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines (First Published July 26, 9:20 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte said it would be his personal commitment to fully implement the Magna Carta of Women the same month he was criticized for his rape joke.

He said in his second State of the Nation Address Monday that he would issue an executive order that would require local government units to institutionalize gender and development programs and services.

READ: Things Duterte said in his 2nd SONA from A-Z

"I would like to reiterate my personal and this administration’s commitment to fully implement the Magna Carta of Women to the barangay level," Duterte said in his SONA, where he also made remarks claiming infidelity is normal.

Duterte went off-script from his talk against corruption and said he doesn't get allowances and only takes his salary, which is divided between his two families.

"Wala akong allowance. Wala akong tinatanggap lahat except my salary. Tapos dalawang pamilya pa ang maghati. Anong masama niyan? Sige, kayo pakpak diyan. Lahat naman tayo," he said to cheers and laughter from the country's top government officials, members of Congress and the diplomatic corps.

READ: Decoding Duterte's out-of-the-box SONA speech

On July 14, the president told an audience of diplomats that he would congratulate someone who would rape a Miss Universe candidate despite knowing the punishment for the crime.

The Commission on Human Rights cautioned that the remark of the country's most powerful official normalizes the objectification of women and is a step back for human rights.

READ: Rape ‘jokes’ normalize objectification of women, CHR tells Duterte

The Palace, however, defended the remark, saying the president was being sarcastic and not joking.

Duterte, who habitually drops off-color jokes during speaking engagements, had promised to metamorphose upon assuming office last year and become more statesmanlike. 

He called CHR Chairman Chito Gascon an "idiot" after an investigation by the agency found that the then presidential candidate violated the Magna Carta of Women over a rape joke about an Australian missionary who was taken hostage in Davao City nearly three decades ago. 

Duterte said at a campaign rally that, as mayor, he should have been first because the victim was "so beautiful."

READ: What Duterte gets wrong about the CHR

He also told the women's rights activists who filed the petition before the CHR to "go to hell."

His devil-may-care language, however, is well understood by the masses, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella argued.

'Repeated rape remarks violate magna carta'

Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia-Pacific, one of the complainants before the CHR told Philstar.com the president's "repeated encouragement of rapists" is a violation of the magna carta.

"[E]specially in the context of the war in Marawi wherein Moro women are in a critical situation," she said, pertaining to the president's remark days after declaring martial law that he would take responsibility for the troops who would rape civilians. "He continues to dodge his accountability because of his immunity as president. He proves callous to the historical plight of Moro women under martial law," Enriquez said.

READ: 'Please ask what we feel': Maranao leader speaks up on martial law abuses

Duterte also said that he was being sarcastic when he made the remark.

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