The Philippines has one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the world and has the world’s second highest percentage of women in high-ranking positions but that does not mean women have it is easy. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement about feminists yesterday is proof of that.
During a Facebook Live interview yesterday with host Franco Mabanta, a supporter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, he said that feminists are sometimes “overacting” when it comes to the president’s statements that some may find sexist.
It came up when Mabanta asked him what his funniest story about Duterte is. You can find it around the 21-minute mark in the video below:
After saying that he has a lot of stories because the president is just that funny, Roque shared how Duterte once joked about being ok with being indicted in the international criminal court as long as he gets to have sex with more than one woman.
“He is saying, ‘well I don’t mind for as long as you allow conjugal visits by more than one woman’,” Roque quoted Duterte.
As if predicting how Duterte’s detractors might react to the story, Roque says: “You know, sometimes, these feminists are really a bit OA (overacting). I mean that’s funny. Come on, just laugh.”
Mabanta, who came under fire in October for calling anti-Duterte blogger Jover Laurio an “Ogre Lady” and “hideous” in Facebook posts, agreed and said “I think it’s hilarious.”
But Roque thinks it is this brand of humor that attracts Filipinos to the president.
“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,” Roque said. “So you, know I think that’s very Filipino and that’s why we identify with this humor.”
Duterte has made similar jokes in his public speeches multiple times.
During his campaign, he joked about wanting to have joined the gang rape of an Australian woman in Davao, where he was mayor.
More recently, he joked last month about using “42 virgins” to lure tourists to visit the country. Roque defended him and said that the president was just joking.
“That was clearly said in jest. There is no need to clarify what was really a joke made by the President if you don’t mind. I’m sure it was said as a joke. I’m sure it was a joke,” he said in a statement.
But feminists were not laughing.
Women’s party list Gabriela reacted to Duterte’s comment and said: “President Duterte’s latest comment that disrespects Filipino women is not shocking but still maddening. This kind of brutal and careless behavior has become the character of the government the macho-fascist president is leading.”