Digong’s misogynistic streak

>> Saturday, October 14, 2017

Perry Diaz       

If there is one thing that President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is consistent in doing, it’s his disrespect for women.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s his wife – or wives – or the two highest female constitutional officers of the land; a woman is fair game for Digong’s chauvinistic misadventures. 
Indeed, attacking, insulting, cursing, and making fun of women has become his signature trademark ever since he won the presidency 15 months ago, beating Grace Poe whom he accused of being an American citizen.  Poe lost the election.
But no sooner had Duterte taken his oath of office had he launched an attack against Sen. Leila de Lima whom he accused of having an illicit affair with her married driver.  De Lima fired back, saying that Duterte was abusing and misusing his executive power by issuing such a “foul” tirade. De Lima is now in detention on drug charges, which she believed were trumped up.  Many call her a “political prisoner.”  Coming to her defense, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Duterte's tirades against de Lima had established a “consistent and disturbing pattern,” which is prejudicial to women.  “As a woman, I take deep offense at President Rodrigo Duterte's latest remarks against fellow Senator Leila de Lima. They are misogynistic,” Hontiveros said. 
Duterte’s misogynistic streak has been evident as far back when he was mayor of Davao City.   During the 2016 presidential campaign, he told the story of a 36-year old Australian missionary, Jacqueline Hamill, who was gang-raped and killed by inmates during a jail siege in Davao City in 1989.
Duterte said that he was so angry with the inmates who killed Hamill and other hostages and fired at them with his Uzi submachine gun, emptying the magazine.  Duterte said he saw Hamill’s body after his security forces stormed the jail. “I looked at her face – son of a bitch – what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up,” he said.  “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.”
Although Duterte finally apologized for his remarks about the Hamill rape joke, his treatment of women continues to cast a dark cloud over his presidency.  In a speech he gave to soldiers fighting the terrorists in Marawi City, Duterte threatened to imprison soldiers who commit violations.  
Then he joked, “If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.”  Sad to say, whether it was intended to lift the morale of the troops, it smacked of sexism and disregard for human rights.
              During a recent interview with CNN, Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, deplored Duterte's latest remark, telling CNN it referenced the crime of rape as an acceptable practice for men with guns and power, this time in remarks dressed up as a sickening attempt at humor.  “Duterte's pro-rape comments only confirm some of the worst fears of human rights activists that the Duterte government will not just turn a blind eye to possible military abuses in Mindanao, but may actively encourage them," Kine said.
Sex slaves
Indeed, rape is the most common crime committed by soldiers in time of war.  In ancient times, women are considered “trophies” – or sex slaves -- by the victorious armies.   During World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army maintained brothels in occupied territories for the “recreational” use of the Japanese troops.  The sex slaves were called “comfort women,” of which some of them are still alive today.
During the dark days of Marcos’ martial rule, widespread human rights abuses such as murder, rape, and torture were committed against those who opposed the government.  Today, people still have vivid recollection of young women who had suffered from rape, detention and torture.
With Duterte threatening to impose martial law nationwide, the specter of human rights abuses is creating jitters around the country.  Although he claims that his martial law would be different from Marcos’ martial law, there is just no way that he could prevent – or control – elements of the military and police from abusive behaviors.  Heck, they would probably take Duterte’s “three rapes” joke seriously and do it.
Three women
“Three” seems to have some magical spell that boosts Duterte’s macho image.  And yes, there are three women – Sen. Leila de Lima, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales -- that are very much part of his presidency but who have given him constant vertigo and the feeling that there is fire burning under his seat.  And it is not going away any time soon.  On the contrary, it is getting worse!  The burning sensation is torturing him to a point that he believes that it is truly happening.
Indeed, paranoia is creeping into his psyche.  He thinks that the “Yellows,” the Liberal Party, Jose Ma. Sison and his Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), the Catholic Church, the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and some Philippine generals are secretly plotting to oust him.
He calls his critics “buang” (Visayan for crazy) while some of his critics call him “Bal,” short for “baliw”(Filipino for insane).  Among those he calls “buang” was Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who had accused him of keeping P2 billion in various bank accounts.  Duterte also called Trillanes “half a man with only one testicle” and a “womanizer” and challenged him to a duel.
Last September 11, Trillanes announced he signed a waiver for 12 bank accounts being linked to him, and challenged Duterte to do the same.  Duterte refused to sign the waivers that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) uses to access the bank accounts.
In cooperation with the AMLC, the Office of the Ombudsman has started looking into the wealth of the Duterte family.  Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said that the family’s transactions “amount to hundreds of millions of pesos from different banks between 2006 and 2016.”  However, he said that it was hard to determine how much the deposits were in total, since the money went in and out of the accounts.
Meanwhile Ombudsman Carpio Morales has inhibited from the case because her nephew, Manases “Mans” Carpio is the husband of Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. Mans’ father Lucas Carpio Jr. is the brother of Carpio Morales.
In retaliation to the Ombudsman’s investigation into the Duterte family’s wealth, Duterte threatened to file impeachment charges against Carpio Morales.   He said that “selective justice” and the “use of falsified documents” would form part of the impeachment case.  On her part, Carpio Morales was defiant, saying, “I can stand my ground because I have nothing to hide.” When she was asked if she was scared, she said “No, never!”  As to whether Duterte would push for the impeachment against Carpio-Morales, it remains to be seen. 
But it’s a different scenario for the impeachment case against Chief Justice Sereno.  The House of Representatives’ committee on justice, on a 25-2 vote, found sufficient grounds to the impeachment complaint.  The committee would now proceed to determine if there was probable cause.  After that, it goes to the Senate for trial.
If Duterte succeeds in prosecuting – nay, persecuting – De Lima and impeaching Carpio Morales and Sereno from office, it would mark the death of democracy as we have known it, and bring the country back to the dark days of despotic rule by a few oligarchic families. 


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