Gabriela on Duterte: ‘We were mistaken’

A Davao-based women’s group that campaigned for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte when he ran for President,  helped craft the Women Agenda for his platform of governance and continued to support him as  President “despite his expletives, cussing and misogynistic remarks” in the last 19 months is now saying “we were wrong.”

“Despite his expletives, cussing and misogynistic remarks, we supported him, hoping that he, indeed, would bring genuine change for the marginalized communities. WE WERE WRONG,” Gabriela Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) said in a statement reacting to the President’s remarks that soldiers should not kill female members of the New Peoples’ Army but shoot their vagina to render them useless.

In its statement titled “No to Sexualization of Women,” Gabriela-SMR wrote “We were wrong” in all caps and in boldface, apparently for emphasis.

The February 13 statement was signed by Gabriela-SMR chair Dr. Jean Lindo, Chair Emeritus Lyda Canson and Secretary-General May Ann Sapar,

Speaking in Cebuano in Malacanang on February 7,  Duterte otold an audience of 217 alleged NPA surrenderers flown in from Eastern Mindanao, that soldiers should get even with the NPA and if there are women fighters, “pusila sa bisong” (shoot their vagina).

He said soldiers should be informed of the “order bag-o ni Mayor” (the mayor’s new order),  referring to himself, in dealing with female NPA guerrillas: “Di lang daw mo patyon. Pusilon lang mo sa bisong arong —og wa na ma’y bisong, wa na ma’y silbi (You will not be killed. They will shoot your vagina because without that, you are useless).

Violence Against Women

Gabriela-SMR recalled that Duterte the Mayor, signed City Ordinance 5004 and Executive Order No. 24, otherwise known as the Women Development Code of Davao City 21 years ago when he was ending his third term as city mayor. Duterte served four more terms as mayor before he was elected President in 2016.

The statement cited two sections of the Code: Section 1 which defines Violence Against Women (VAW) as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such act, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life;” and Section 2 which enumerates all the acts or phenomena that are included as VAW, including “physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated against women and condoned by the State, wherever it occurs” and “violation of human rights of women in situations of armed-conflict, in particular murder, physical and psychological torture, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy.”

It also added that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 is about achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Gabriela-SMR was a member of Forum of Women For Action With Rody Duterte (ForwaRD) which campaigned for a Duterte Presidency and helped craft his women agenda.

Gabriela-SMR also quoted the President in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, 2017 where he reiterated “my personal and this administration’s commitment to fully implement the Magna Carta of Women to the barangay level.”

“And yet in his latest call to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines and Commander in Chief of the AFP, ordered his troops to shoot the genitals of the female revolutionaries. His sexualization of women in counter-insurgency campaign is not only directed to the female revolutionaries but to all women,” Gabriela-SMR said.

It defined “sexualization”  in the “context that the President suggested for the NPA amazons to be subject to genital mutilation rather than to killing so that when their genitals are gone they are inutile or of no more use.”

The group said the President’s statements “reflect a very disturbing deep-seated misogyny and sexism” and “contradict the Women Development Code he signed in 1997.”

Outrage and disappointment

“We express our outrage and disappointment over President Duterte’s anti-women remarks and his utter disrespect for women. We call on the President not to imitate Ampatuan and his private army when they did genital mutilation aside from killing the women on November 23, 2009,” Gabriela-SMR said.

“How much more terrorism do you want women to be subjected to?” the group asked as it called on all women to “make this their call in all their campaigns for equality and against discrimination and gender-related violence.”

Gabriela-SMR also said “No” to sexism and misogyny, sexualization of women in counter-insurgency campaign and in all debate arena;” counter-insurgency and urged a return to the peace negotiating table.

In a statement last Sunday, Gabriela Natonal described the President as “macho fascist” and the “epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled into one” for  “encouraging violence against women.”

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Duterte’s statement “openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the goverment right  now.”

The President is “dangerously pushing” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “commit more bloody human rights violations and grave abuses of international humanitarian law, and takes state terrorism against women and the people to a whole new level,” she added.

Rape jokes

Duterte has been criticized for his sexist remarks and rape jokes, among them on the Australian missionary held hostage and killed in August 1989 who was allegedly raped by the hostage-takers. “Put_ng ina, sayang ito. Ang nagpasok sa isip ko, nirape nila, pinagpilahan nila doon. Nagalit ako kasi nirape, oo isa rin ‘yun. Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang” (Son__b_ch, what a pity. What came to my mind was, they raped her, lined up for her. I was angry because she was raped. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a pity), Duterte said in Quezon City on April 12, 2016. (Carolyn O Arguillas / MindaNews)