Women in the know say Duterte chau­vin­ist

Otago Daily Times - - World -

DAVAO/MANILA: Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has a prob­lem with women, says the woman who has known him longer than per­haps any other: his sis­ter Jo­cel­lyn.

‘‘He’s a chau­vin­ist,’’ she told Reuters in a re­cent in­ter­view.

‘‘When he sees a woman who fights him, it re­ally gets his ire,’’ Jo­cel­lyn said.

Then Jo­cel­lyn ran through a list of Duterte’s fe­male crit­ics that in­cluded his vice­pres­i­dent, a prom­i­nent se­na­tor who is now in jail and the head of the Philip­pines Supreme Court.

All three have sparred with Duterte af­ter de­nounc­ing his bru­tal ex­tra­ju­di­cial war on drugs, which has killed thou­sands of peo­ple in the Asian na­tion since he took of­fice in June 2016.

Duterte has joked about rape, in­sulted the Pope and baf­fled friends and foes with of­ten con­tra­dic­tory pub­lic state­ments.

Nei­ther this, nor his pro­fan­ity­laden re­ac­tions to women crit­ics, seem to have dented his pop­u­lar­ity among Filipinos.

The 72­year­old pres­i­dent is a self­con­fessed wom­an­iser who once told a large gath­er­ing of lo­cal of­fi­cials, ‘‘I can’t imag­ine life with­out Vi­a­gra.’’

On the cam­paign trail last year, he joked about the gang rape of an Aus­tralian mis­sion­ary who was killed in a prison riot. Speak­ing to Philip­pine troops in May, he said he would take re­spon­si­bil­ity for any rape they might com­mit.

But women’s rights ad­vo­cates also praise him for hand­ing out free con­tra­cep­tives in his home­town, Davao City, where he was mayor for 22 years, and for cham­pi­oning a re­pro­duc­tive health Bill op­posed by the coun­try’s in­flu­en­tial Catholic Church.

In a re­cent state­ment, even Hu­man Rights Watch — a fer­vent critic of the drug war — ac­knowl­edged Duterte’s ‘‘strong sup­port’’ for leg­is­la­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing and pro­mot­ing women.

Af­ter nearly 15 months in power, he re­mains highly pop­u­lar with men and women alike, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sur­vey by Manila­based poll­ster So­cial Weather Sta­tions.

While for­eign­ers frown at Duterte’s rape jokes, ac­cord­ing to Gina Lopez, a for­mer en­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary in Duterte’s male­dom­i­nated Cab­i­net, Filipinos judge him by his ac­tions not his words.

‘‘When I see him deal­ing with women in the Cab­i­net or what­ever, he has been very above­board, very de­cent,’’ she said.

She said this de­cency also once ex­tended to Vice­pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo, who has pub­licly fallen out with Duterte. She is from an op­po­si­tion party and was elected sep­a­rately.

‘‘He re­ally liked Leni. They got along and he was al­ways flirt­ing,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘That’s what men do, right?’’

In a state­ment, the pres­i­dent’s of­fice called Duterte ‘‘an ad­vo­cate of women’s rights’’ who had launched a ‘‘mas­sive cam­paign against gen­der bias’’ while mayor of Davao.

As pres­i­dent, it added, he had ‘‘hand­picked the best and bright­est women’’ for his Cab­i­net. Three of the coun­try’s 25 Cab­i­net sec­re­taries or min­is­ters are women.

Duterte spends up to four days a week in his far­flung home­town Davao, rul­ing a na­tion of 100 mil­lion peo­ple not from the pres­i­den­tial palace in the cap­i­tal, Manila, but from a mod­est house shaded by a jack­fruit tree. Duterte was mayor of Davao for 22 years.

He sleeps un­til lunchtime, holds Cab­i­net meet­ings in­fre­quently and some­times an­nounces ma­jor poli­cies with­out fore­warn­ing se­nior of­fi­cials, leav­ing them scram­bling to catch up.

Duterte’s volatil­ity has baf­fled Wash­ing­ton, which has long seen the Philip­pines as a bul­wark against Chi­nese ex­pan­sion­ism. He has courted Bei­jing and pub­licly be­rated the United States in ram­bling speeches.

Much of Duterte’s venom is re­served for women who op­pose him.

In Au­gust, he called Agnes Calla­ mard, a United Na­tions spe­cial rap­por­teur on ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, a ‘‘daugh­ter of a whore’’ af­ter she con­demned the po­lice shoot­ing of a teenage drug sus­pect.

‘‘He’s a misog­y­nist,’’ said Se­na­tor Leila de Lima, who spoke at a po­lice de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity in Manila.

De Lima was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary on drugs charges she says were trumped up as part of a pres­i­den­tial vendetta. ‘‘To him, women are in­fe­rior,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s to­tally in­sult­ing to him that a woman would be fight­ing him.’’

Ac­cord­ing to Jo­cel­lyn Duterte, Duterte is also fight­ing with the woman he hopes will ce­ment his po­lit­i­cal legacy: his daugh­ter, Sara.

Sara Duterte re­luc­tantly re­placed her fa­ther as mayor of Davao City in the south­ern Philip­pines when he be­came pres­i­dent. Fa­ther and daugh­ter barely speak, Jo­cel­lyn said.

‘‘I know in his quiet mo­ments he con­sid­ers him­self a fail­ure as a fa­ther, be­cause of Sara fight­ing with him,’’ she said.

Jo­cel­lyn said she had her own prob­lems with her older brother but they now got along. They have two other brothers.

Jo­cel­lyn, who refers to the pres­i­dent as ‘‘the mayor,’’ said Duterte still ate the same sim­ple food their mother, Soledad, once cooked: cheap fish sim­mered in vine­gar.

She also traces Duterte’s au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism to Soledad, who pun­ished her chil­dren with a horse­whip or made them kneel at an al­tar for hours.

‘‘You can see that in the mayor,’’ Jo­cel­lyn said.

‘‘Some­times peo­ple per­ceive it as ar­ro­gance or call it close to be­ing a dic­ta­tor. But we grew up in that at­mos­phere.’’

Their fa­ther, Vi­cente, also a politi­cian, was of­ten ab­sent, and the young Duterte saw the body­guards, po­lice and sol­diers around him as role mod­els, his sis­ter said. He grew up in a ma­cho cul­ture where wives and daugh­ters were ex­pected to be sub­mis­sive, Jo­cel­lyn said.

His daugh­ter, Sara, is any­thing but. In 2011, dur­ing her first term as Davao’s mayor, she was caught on cam­era punch­ing a lo­cal of­fi­cial who an­gered her.

In 2016, Sara ran as mayor again, but only be­cause she was ‘‘pres­sured’’ by her fa­ther’s sup­port­ers, she said. ‘‘If it were up to me, I would not have run,’’ she said.

She said she now only saw her fa­ther on spe­cial oc­ca­sions, such as birth­days and Christ­mas, but de­nied they had dif­fer­ences. ‘‘He’s very busy,’’ she ex­plained.

Duterte and his daugh­ter have ‘‘a nor­mal Filipino par­ent­child re­la­tion­ship which has its own share of ups and downs,’’ the pres­i­dent’s of­fice said in its state­ment.

Like her fa­ther, Sara is blunt, downto­earth and thronged by ad­mir­ers at pub­lic ap­pear­ances in Davao.

She said she wanted to prac­tise law and, once her three­year term as mayor was up, had no wish or in­ten­tion to con­tinue in pol­i­tics.

But in a coun­try fa­mous for po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties span­ning many gen­er­a­tions, Duterte wants his daugh­ter to ‘‘pre­serve what the fam­ily has done for the city,’’ said Jo­cel­lyn.

‘‘He is try­ing to in­stil in Sara that it is our legacy,’’ she said. ‘‘Maybe she needs more time.’’ — Reuters

He’s a misog­y­nist . . . To him, women are in­fe­rior

Se­na­tor Leila de Lima

PHOTO: REUTERS

Glam­our by as­so­ci­a­tion . . . Filipino stu­dents take ‘‘self­ies’’ with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, el­dest daugh­ter of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, in Davao City, in south­ern Philip­pines, last month.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The pun­isher . . . A ven­dor sells sou­venir items with images of Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte in Davao City, in south­ern Philip­pines.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Hand on heart . . . Philip­pines vi­cepres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo and Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte at­tend the 70th Philip­pine Air Force an­niver­sary at Clark Air Base, in An­ge­les City, north of Manila, in July. At right, Jo­cel­lyn Duterte, sis­ter of Pres­i­dent Duterte, at an in­ter­view in Manila, this week.

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