While the President and his allies might defend his statements as an attempt at levity, rape can never be considered as a joke especially when rape, as he has illustrated with his depraved humor, is utilized as an implement of war.
Although such statements of blatant misogyny and sexism are not the exception but the rule for Duterte, such utterances should never be normalized. It is without a doubt that Duterte’s previous remarks, starting from the time he was still a presidential candidate when he joked about the rape and murder of a foreign missionary, to the overt misogyny he and his allies have applied towards vocal women critics, has served to lower the bar for the presidency. However such statements from our public servants should never be countenanced, whether in the private or public spheres.
It should also be pointed out that his statement, while intended to elicit laughter from similarly degenerate minds among those in the audience, serve to goad our soldiers to commit a war crime. As a son of Mindanao and a son of a Marcos critic, he should be aware of the numerous atrocities that the Marcos military committed against many Mindanaoan women.
But it seems, we cannot expect Mr. Duterte to desist from making those remarks on the grounds that as the highest official of the country he is sworn to protect the human rights of every citizen. He has practically spat on the idea of human rights, threatened human rights defenders, and has defended law enforcement officials who have violated human rights. Yes, there is little to expect from him in that regard.
However, as the first Mindanaoan president, he should be more prudent in his choice of words when addressing our troops currently deployed to fight terrorism under the auspices of martial law in Mindanao. Obviously the current Armed Forces of the Philippines while not perfect, is not the same Marcos-era AFP, but their commander in chief seems to be pining for them to be otherwise.
Yes, we don’t presume Duterte respects women. But even he and his allies should admit that goading our troops to rape as a punchline for a joke, is too sick even for him.
Machris Cabreros, Akbayan President