What does he have vs women?
Less than two years after he assumed the country’s top government post, President Duterte has hurled insults at several women in leadership positions, including detained Sen. Leila de Lima, ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Vice President Leni Robredo, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, Australian Catholic nun Patricia Fox and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
The President has also told government troops to “shoot NPA [New People’s Army] rebels in the vagina,” and recently ordered the removal of the statue of a comfort woman “to avoid offending Japan.”
Earlier, he petitioned a Regional Trial Court to declare “terrorist” the NPA rebel group, including Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who was appointed UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in 2014.
The President first gained international reprobation in 2016, when he made light of the rape of an Australian missionary killed during a 1989 prison riot in Davao City.
Mr. Duterte’s latest remarks on what qualifications the successor of Ombudsman Morales should possess had become as controversial. She retires in July.
“I want someone known for integrity. Not a politician, and especially not a woman,” the President told reporters on Wednesday night.
His statement speaks of “sick, macabre misogyny,” Gabriela Representatives Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus said.
“[His remarks] run counter to the constitutional mandate of the state to enable women to realize their full potential in the service of the nation,” Brosas and De Jesus said in a joint statement.
The two lawmakers added: “What does President Duterte fear of women? Why is he so threatened by women?”
The President’s statement shows his “paranoia for strong upright women leaders,” said Loretta “Etta” Rosales, emeritus chair emeritus of the Akbayan party-list group.
“This comment, alongside an earlier comment that (Chinese) President XI Jinping will not allow for his ouster as President, reflects paranoia that speaks badly of a sitting President whose oath of allegiance includes protecting the country against foreign interference and ensuring the equal protection of law without discrimination as to gender, religion and political belief,” Rosales said.
“To discredit women as less qualified for simply being women insults the tradition of excellence that Filipinas have exhibited across fields, including in the law profession,” said Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia.
“Both men and women, are created equal in rights and op- portunities, and we call on the President to recognize women as equally qualified to lead an office as crucial as the Office of the Ombudsman,” De Guia added.
But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque defended his boss, saying he “can only choose among nominees of the Judicial and Bar Council.”
While maintaining that “anyone could be apppointed in our government,” Roque admitted that he did not have any idea why the President would issue such a statement, and that he would have “to clarify [ it] with him.”
“A woman can qualify,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said, adding that President Duterte could impose his “personal subjective requirements” when it comes to the character of his appointee.
But we should “stick to the basic requirements under the Constitution,” Pimentel said.
The Constitution states that the Ombudsman must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least 40 years old at the time of appointment, of recognized probity and independence, a member of the Philippine Bar, and must not have been a candidate for any elec- tive office in the immediately preceding election.
The Ombudsman should have been a judge as well or has engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines for at least 10 years.
President Duterte’s constant swearing and rude sexist remarks have been a magnet for criticism, for which he apologized during a gathering of principals in Davao City early this month.
“If you cannot understand me or make allowances for my habit, please forgive me,” he said.
His mother, Mr. Duterte said, had a lot to do with shaping his character because she used to punish him for the slightest misdeed.
“If Soledad [were] alive today, I could sue her for child abuse. My mother was worst when angry. [She’d hit me] with anything she laid her hands on,” the President said.
“But anyway, I love my mother so much. You know why? Because she was the only person who kept faith in me,” he added.
Leila de Lima
Conchita Carpio Morales