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MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte, at an event honoring women no less, accused women of "depriving" him of his right to freedom of expression.
"Puta (Bitch), you know, you women, you are depriving me of my freedom of expression.... You criticize every sentence or word I say, but that is my freedom to express myself," he said on Monday, March 11.
He was speaking as the guest of honor at an event honoring "Outstanding Women in Law Enforcement and National Security of the Philippines" in Malacañang's Heroes Hall. March is also celebrated as National Women's Month in the Philippines.
His audience was composed of mostly women from the military and the police. (READ: Duterte: I believe in women's competence, but not in all aspects)
"Even if I am just a president, do not take me away from the crowd of being a Filipino citizen," he said.
"Kayong mga gaga kayo, huwag kayo mga – it's the freedom of expression. Kaya sinasadya ko 'yang ganito kasi I am trying to bring you to the limits of despair."
(You crazy women, don't – it's the freedom of expression. I am doing this because I am trying to bring you to the limits of despair.)
Duterte's outburst was prompted by criticism of his warning to women to stay away from priests because priests likely desire them.
He had said this last Friday, March 8, during the distribution of certificates of land ownership award in Negros Occidental.
"The women should refrain from going near the priests because when you are near him, he will just smell the scent of your body. And if he corners you in the church, patay ka (you're dead), he will court you. Do you know why? It's because he is a man," said Duterte in Bisaya.
Taunting female critics
In his Monday speech, Duterte taunted women who took exception to these remarks, saying they are just "rejects" of priests.
"Kaya kayong mga reject ng pari nagreklamo kayo sa 'kin, hindi ko kasalanan 'yan. Biro mo, nareject ka ng pari?" said the President.
(You rejects of priests complaining about me, that's not my fault. Can you believe it, you were rejected by a priest?)
In many recent speeches, Duterte has brought up sexual abuses by priests as a way to justify the threats and insults he has hurled against them.
Earlier on Monday, 3 priests held a press conference to inform the public of various death threats they have received under the Duterte administration. (LOOK: Death threats vs priests critical of Duterte drug war)
In December 2018, Duterte openly called for the killing of "useless" priests. Even before then, his critics said his earlier tirades on the Catholic Church had emboldened killers, leading to the murders of 3 priests – Fathers Marcelito Paez, 72, and Richmond Nilo, 43, both from Nueva Ecija, and Father Mark Ventura, 37, from Cagayan.
Duterte's threats and rants against priests were prompted by the Catholic Church's fierce opposition to his anti-drug campaign. (READ: Duterte said kill the bishops – and his word became flesh) – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.