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Comelec's Guanzon hits 'disgusting' Duterte rape joke

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon criticized Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, April 20, after the presidential candidate joked about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary. 

Guanzon said she was making this statement as chair of the Comelec’s gender and development committee.

In a statement, Guanzon said that out of 54.3 million Filipino voters, "there are 27,896,668 women voters." She pointed out that this is "1.7 million more women voters than men."

"That’s 27.9 million women voters who can be raped. And Rodrigo Duterte, a presidential candidate, makes a disgusting ‘joke’ about it, talking about rape and murder victim Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was taken hostage in a Davao City prison, as if she was not a human being," she said. 

Duterte is facing public outrage, both in the Philippines and in other countries, after he joked about an Australian missionary raped in 1989. (READ: Australia amid Duterte quip: Rape is not a joke)

Code of conduct pushed

Duterte said in a campaign sortie: "Nagalit ako kasi ni-rape, oo, isa rin ‘yun. Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang." (I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.)

Guanzon cited this quote from Duterte in her statement on Wednesday.

"As chair of the gender and development committee of the Commission on Elections, I will propose a Code of Conduct for Candidates, and will reform election rules to emphasize gender sensitivity and gender equality," she said.

Guanzon belongs to the Comelec First Division, which handled cases to stop Duterte’s presidential bid.

Duterte once moved to inhibit Guanzon from hearing the cases against him, as he cited the commissioner’s supposedly "palpable bias." Duterte’s camp linked Guanzon to a lawyer of an anti-Duterte petitioner.

Guanzon denied the Duterte camp’s claims and said, “I am very independent-minded.” The Comelec First Division voted to allow Guanzon to continue hearing cases against Duterte. 

The Comelec First Division, which includes Guanzon, unanimously ended up allowing Duterte to run. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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