It’s difficult to think of anything that could top Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” remark, but leave it to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to rise to the challenge.
In a Facebook post yesterday, feminist party list Gabriela spoke out against a statement Duterte said last week about ordering troops to shoot female members of the communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) “in the vagina.”
“Bring that. Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina, so that …’ If there is no vagina, it would be useless,” Duterte said in Cebuano last week during a gathering with former rebels in the presidential palace.
The full, translated transcript of his speech is available in the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s website, but the word “bisong” (vagina in Cebuano) and “vagina” were censored.
The president’s comment initially flew under the radar because he said them in a private event, but outrage from Gabriela brought it to light.
“Duterte (sic) latest nasty remark openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now,” Gabriela Representative Emmi de Jesus said in a statement.
“He is pushing the fascist 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.”
This is hardly the first time Duterte has made misogynistic statements like this, but his spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Facebook Live interview last week that feminists are “OA” (overacting) when reacting to the president’s controversial statements and should just laugh at his jokes.
“You know, sometimes, these feminists are really a bit OA (overacting). I mean that’s funny. Come on, just laugh,” he said about Duterte joking that he is ok with being indicted in the international criminal court as long as he gets to have sex with more than one woman.
Roque also said that people like Duterte because Filipinos can relate to his humor.
“I think that’s why people love him because in the Philippines, even if we are in despair, even if we are, like, even hopeless, instead of crying, we laugh,” he said. “So you know, I think that’s very Filipino and that’s why we identify with this humor.”
We’re not sure how his latest comment, even as a joke, could be taken as funny, though.