MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – More candidates in the May elections are speaking out against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, after a video of the presidential bet joking about rape went viral.
In the video, Duterte joked that an Australian missionary who was raped and murdered in the late 1980s was “so beautiful, the mayor should have been first [to rape her].” (READ: VIRAL: Video of Duterte joking about raped Australian woman)
In a statement on Sunday, April 17, vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo stressed that rape should never be a subject of jokes – especially from someone running for the highest position in the Philippines.
Robredo added that as a human rights lawyer, she has seen the violence and trauma inflicted on women and that is why she will continue to defend them as part of her advocacy.
“Hindi magandang halimbawa ang ipinapakita natin sa kabataan kapag ang isang napakabigat na krimen tulad ng panggagahasa ay ginagawang katawa-tawa,” Robredo said. “Kaming mga lingkod bayan ay dapat maging huwaran ng taumbayan.”
(It is not a good example to children if a crime like rape is turned into a laughing matter. As public servants, we should serve as role models of the public.)
Senator Francis Escudero, another vice presidential bet, also slammed Duterte for wooing voters “by demeaning the dignity of women.”
“His frequent use of women, regardless of their circumstance, as subject or object of his jokes during his presidential sorties is foul and offensive, to say the least,” Escudero said.
“We should, at all times, protect and respect the dignity of women and other genders. We do not want the Philippines to become a haven for women and sex offenders,” he added.
Another vice presidential aspirant, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, also aired his strong sentiments against Duterte’s remarks.
“Mayor Duterte’s rape joke, not to mention his cursing of Pope Francis, shows that he is really sick in the mind. This guy should not be the president of our country,” he said in a statement sent to the media on Monday, April 18.
Meanwhile, the Davao City mayor’s close friend, vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, acknowledged that Duterte’s joke was inappropriate.
“One of the qualities, I suppose, that he has is he doesn’t worry about political correctness. But it is sometimes necessary to be sensitive to the plight of a victim of a terrible crime,” Marcos said in a brief interview on Monday.
Senatorial aspirant Leila De Lima echoed the other candidates’ statements, adding that the public should put an end to Duterte’s “malignancy.”
“If there is still some reason left in him, Duterte should apologize to women and all rape victims for his exceptionally abhorrent statement,” the former justice secretary added. “This display of impunity simply cannot go on.”
Former Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, another senatorial candidate, called Duterte’s remarks “reprehensible and unacceptable.”
“There is only one group of people who applaud Duterte’s remarks: rapists… To excuse such behavior on the part of the mayor is to continue to fan the culture of rape that underpins the system of machismo in our country,” said Bello in a statement.
“He says he won’t apologize. Well, if he does not, let’s punish him in the polls on May 9.”
Joke ‘speaks volumes’
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr also said that Duterte’s statement shows that he has neither “matured nor evolved” while his presidential bid “deserves serious scrutiny.”
“He makes fun of, and trivializes the rape and killing of a female missionary from a foreign land who was part of a team made up mostly of women and who were doing their part in reforming convicted prison inmates,” Coloma said in a statement on Sunday.
He added that the controversial joke “speaks volumes” about Duterte’s character and lack of respect for women – confirming the “expressed utmost concern” of non-supporters.
“He does not respect nor care for the sensitivities of the countries with whom the Philippines maintains cordial and cooperative relations,” Coloma said. “Instead of being concerned about the breach of prison security in Davao City, he laments that as mayor, he was upstaged by the prison inmates who committed the heinous crimes of rape and murder.”
Presidential bets Senator Grace Poe, former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Vice President Jejomar Binay have also condemned Duterte’s statement. (READ: Poe, Roxas, Binay hit Duterte: Rape is a serious crime, not a joke) – Rappler.com