MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte sees nothing wrong with his attributing rape to the beauty of women, saying he is protected by the right to free expression.
In a speech in Israel on Monday morning, September 3, Duterte downplayed his recent remark that there are many rape cases in Davao City, his hometown, because there are "many beautiful women" there.
"Itong mga ano, magsabi ka lang maraming rape sa Davao sabi ko siguro kasi maraming maganda sa Davao. Hindi ko naman sinabing rinape lahat 'yan," he said.
(These critics, you just say many were raped in Davao, I said because maybe there are many beautiful women in Davao. I didn't say all of them were raped.)
"But you're almost mesmerized and tempted. That is how you control yourself. It is a democracy, freedom of expression," he continued.
Duterte also invoked the right to free speech when he defended Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson from criticism over her video of a lewd federalism jingle and dance which made references to female private parts.
The Philippine President's remorselessness is unsurprising given the many times he has shrugged off criticism for his misogynist statements – including a warning to shoot female communist rebels in the vagina and saying he wished he had raped an Australian missionary who died in a prison riot.
In defense of his latest rape remark, Malacañang said people from the Visayas and Mindanao, where Duterte hails from, don't see the President's "sense of humor" as offensive.
Vice President Leni Robredo pointed out on Monday, however, that rape is a serious matter and victims should not be blamed.
"Merong rape kasi merong rapist. Hindi may rape dahil may magandang babae. Sineseryoso natin ito," said Robredo.
(Rape exists because of rapists. Rape is not caused by beautiful women. We are serious in dealing with this issue.) – 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 email@example.com.