Lady official: Unmarried Duterte can joke about extramarital affairs
MANILA, Philippines – High-ranking female officials of the Duterte administration came to the defense of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is accused of being sexist in some of his remarks and actions.
One undersecretary even said Duterte can make jokes about extramarital affairs of government officials, a crime under Philippine law and grounds for suspension of government officials, since he himself is not married at the moment.
“When we say extramarital affair, the President is not married so kaya niya gumawa ng ganitong remarks kasi, ‘di ba, hindi naman siya kasal eh?” said Interior Undersecretary Emily Padilla on Friday, March 31, during the “Digong’s Day for Women” event in Palace grounds.
(When we say extramarital affair, the President is not married so he can make these kinds of remarks because, he isn’t married, right?)
She and other officials were holding a press conference before Duterte’s arrival at the event.
Women empowerment advocates have criticized Duterte for his sexist remarks about women, especially his controversial joke that he should have been the first to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary during a prison riot in Davao City in the 1980s. (READ: Duterte the 'benevolent sexist'?)
He also often makes remarks about the prevalence of officials who have affairs.
On Thursday, March 30, Duterte told a room full of new government appointees: “‘Sus siguro dito sa lahat ng lalaki – I’ll peg you at about mga 300 – magsabi sino mabait diyan na walang kabit? Dalawa, tatlo lang siguro.”
(Probably among all the men here – I’ll peg you at about 300 – who is behaved here who has no girlfriend? Probably just two, 3.)
Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag admitted Duterte’s words may turn off some people, but she appealed to women to be “forgiving.”
“We are not saying everything a person says is perfect or right and for that again, I ask, as women, let’s have a forgiving heart,” she said.
Asked about what she thought of the time Duterte’s catcalled a reporter during a press conference, Banaag said not all women will regard catcalling as insulting or sexist.
“On my part, as a woman, catcalling is relative, it depends on the person if they get hurt,” she said.
Justice Assistant Secretary Aimee Neri, meanwhile, said she would rather not comment on Duterte’s specific remarks. She preferred to highlight the pro-women programs in Davao City where Duterte served as mayor for over two decades.
“It’s only in Davao City where he created special council for violence against women and me personally, I handled more than 300 abused women cases. And [President Duterte] doesn’t tolerate any form of abuses,” said Neri.
She also spoke of how Duterte, as mayor, would show his displeasure when he hears a policeman is cheating on their wife.
Davao City is praised for being the first to have a Women’s Development Code, providing free legal assistance to abused women, and for implementing reproductive health programs. – Rappler.com