MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemned President Rodrigo Duterte's latest remarks about rape, made in front of troops, and reminded government forces that they must uphold human rights as they carry out operations against terrorists in Mindanao.
"We urge the government and our security forces, the police and military alike, to remain faithful to their roles as defenders of human rights and the dignity of all, regardless of the circumstance," the commission said. (READ: CHR reminds gov't: Protect human rights in martial law implementation)
The CHR statement, released on Sunday, May 28, comes after the President told soldiers he would take responsibility for whatever actions they would take in the implementation of martial law in Mindanao. (READ: Duterte: 'I alone' responsible for martial law aftermath)
In the same speech on Friday, May 26, Duterte joked that he would take the place of any soldier convicted of rape committed under martial law in Mindanao.
Malacañang downplayed the President's latest rape joke as "heightened bravado," saying he was only "exaggeratedly describing crimes."
The CHR pointed out, however, that "rape is never a joke."
"Women, especially those poor and vulnerable who bear the brunt of the ongoing violence on the ground, are not objects of ridicule either," the commission said.
This is not Duterte's first controversial remark about rape. During the campaign period, he sparked outrage when he joked about an Australian missionary who was raped in Davao City.
Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao last Tuesday, May 23, after clashes between the Maute terror group and the military erupted in Marawi City. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao) – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.