Women in a man’s world: Duterte and his fiercest female critics
The foul-mouthed, trash-talking, crime-busting President Rodrigo Duterte believes women cannot stand threats and intimidation.
He has shown preference for men over women in key Cabinet posts and his tirades against women in government often landed him in trouble.
But his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said her father, a self-confessed womanizer, hates weakness and not women in particular.
“What he doesn’t like lies not in the gender but in the character,” Carpio said. “He has no respect for weakness.”
Sara, the mayor who punched a court sheriff over the demolition of houses in a slum area in Davao City, has often been portrayed by the President as tougher than him.
But Sara does not think much about being described as the female version of the President.
“I have never thought on how I want to be remembered. It feels like dying tomorrow. If I die tomorrow, I want people to smile when they remember me,” she told INQUIRER.net
“And I think people will smile if their lives are improved because of my work,” she added.
Sara replaced Duterte as Davao City mayor in 2016 after her father was persuaded to run as President and won an overwhelming 16 million votes.
Once dubbed “The Punisher” by Time magazine, Duterte is known for his cursing, his iron-fisted rule, and his unconventional method of fighting crime in Davao City.
His partner, Honeylet Avanceña, said the disciplinarian character displayed by Duterte came from his mother, Soledad, who raised him to heed and respect authority.
Avanceña said Soledad described Duterte as “pilyo,” who was expelled from grade school after he hit a priest with a sling shot.
“[Soledad] shaped them to accept discipline and righteousness,” Avanceña said.
Duterte, who initially said he would act presidential after his inauguration, later admitted that it was too late for him to change after he brought his iron-fisted rule from Davao City to Malacañang.
The 73-year old President, who ran on the campaign promise of wiping out drugs, criminality, and corruption, has often used crass language to threaten criminals and slam his critics.
In one of his speeches, he said he was willing to kill more to get rid of illegal drugs.
“I will kill more if only to get rid of drugs,” he said in a speech late last year.
While the President’s supporters have embraced Duterte’s foul-language and unconventional rule, not everyone is happy with his behavior.
The President seems to have a problem with strong-willed women, Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox told INQUIRER.net.
Fox, who has been in the Philippines for more than 27 years, has been ordered deported by the Bureau of Immigration for her alleged involvement in partisan activities.
Duterte has publicly slammed Fox and called her “undesirable” for joining political activities and for criticizing him.
The President has repeatedly said he is ready to accept insults and criticisms from Filipinos but not from foreigners.
“I have been surprised at the President’s targeting of me as I have never met him and really have said little about him,” Fox said.
“The deportation order makes it clear that it is coming from him. It is based on our different interpretations on what is missionary work and what is anti-government. For me, advocating the social teachings of the church is a moral obligation, and not partisan political which I do not engage in,” she added.
Aside from her, Fox said Duterte has a problem with “women who are strong.”
“The President seems to have a problem with women who are strong and have opinions that may differ from him: Robredo, Morales, Sereno, UN Rapporteur, ICC judge,” she said.
Duterte has also recently made a stinging remark against Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo as he called her “incompetent” and unfit to run the Philippines as President.
“I don’t think she can ever be ready to govern my country. [The] reason? Incompetence,” he said.
Robredo had fired back at Duterte and said the President should instead focus on the economy rather than insulting her.
The President initially said he was open to a “cordial working relationship” with Robredo, even appointing her as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
But Duterte barred Robredo from attending Cabinet meetings due to “irreconcilable differences,” which prompted the Vice President to resign from her Cabinet post.
Two years after she won by a slim margin of 263,473 votes over the son and namesake of late president Ferdinand Marcos, Robredo said she was willing to lead and unite the opposition against the Duterte administration.
“It is everyone’s obligation to oppose when there’s a need to oppose,” the former Camarines Sur lawmaker said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque described Robredo’s move as “hardly surprising,” adding that she is “the highest elected member of the opposition.”
Aside from Robredo, three women in government – detained Sen. Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and ousted chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno – have earned the ire of Duterte for their critical stand on the President’s policies.
During his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) in 2016, Duterte even shook the hands of De Lima before he went to his rostrum to deliver his speech.
But that would be the last time Duterte would have a chance to meet one of his staunchest critics, as the senator was put to jail less than a year after their handshake, a gesture then described by De Lima as “warm and friendly.”
Since then, Duterte and De Lima have traded barbs over the administration’s brutal war on drugs and the rise of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines that has gained local and international condemnation.
De Lima has branded Duterte as the “Number 1 criminal” in the country, accountable for the deaths of drug suspects and criminals since he assumed the presidency.
The President had launched a brutal war on drugs, which led to the death of thousands of Filipinos, mostly poor.
Irked by De Lima’s criticisms, Duterte often threatened to release the alleged sex video of the detained senator.
But the senator, a former human rights chair, remained unfazed and called Duterte a “sex-obsessed sociopath.”
However, De Lima was not the only one to bear the brunt of Duterte’s verbal attacks as Sereno has also been called “ignorant” and “dumb” by the President.
In April, a seething Duterte declared war against Sereno and vowed to remove her as chief justice.
“I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” he said.
A month afterwards, Sereno was ousted by her fellow magistrates through a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Sereno believed Duterte was behind her ouster, which the President has repeatedly denied.
The former chief justice has been critical of Duterte’s war on drugs and has opposed his declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
In August 2016, Sereno wrote a four-page letter to the President, calling his “narcolist,” which includes judges, as “premature.”
Sereno’s letter did not sit well with Duterte, accusing Sereno of interfering with his job and even threatening to declare martial law.
Sereno also opposed Duterte’s decision to bury former president Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, saying she could not support “such an expedient and shortsighted view of Philippine history.”
Aside from Sereno, the President has also attacked Ombudsman Morales, who is set to retire this July.
The Ombudsman, under Morales, has launched an investigation into the alleged unexplained wealth of Duterte and his family.
Duterte then fired back, saying he would create a commission that would probe supposed corruption in the anti-graft agency.
Recently, the President slammed the Ombudsman for selective justice for not acting on complaints against certain individuals at the agency.
Duterte’s controversial policies, particularly his war on drugs, have earned global condemnation and prompted United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s desire to probe the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Duterte has set conditions for Callamard’s visit, which were unacceptable to the UN rapporteur. He even called the rapporteur as “son of a b****.”
Malacañang has branded Callamard as an “incompetent and biased” rapporteur.
The President has also slammed International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who earlier said she would start a preliminary examination of a complaint accusing Duterte of crimes against humanity in connection with his bloody war on drugs.
In March, Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC due to “baseless” accusations against him by UN officials and violations of due process.
Duterte also came under fire for ordering soldiers to “shoot the vagina” of female communist rebels.
He was also criticized for kissing a married Filipina in front of overseas Filipino workers in Seoul, South Korea in June.
Roque had defended Duterte’s gesture, saying it was a “playful act” accepted in Filipino culture.
Gabriela partylist Representatives Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas have deplored the President’s sexist remarks and actions, even questioning Duterte’s apparent fear of women.
“What does President Duterte fear of women? Why is he so threatened by women?” Gabriela said in a statement.
Gert Ranjo-Libang, vice chairperson of the women’s group Gabriela, said Duterte “spews out misogynistic remarks with impunity.”
Ranjo-Libang also slammed the image of Duterte kissing women, catcalling them, making rape jokes, and sexist remarks against women, which include Robredo and his “shoot the vagina” remarks against the New People’s Army.
“He spews out misogynistic remarks with impunity that may have led to the rise of rape cases and other forms of violence against women in the past months,” Ranjo-Libang added.
But Duterte had explained his “rude” attitude towards his critics.
“Be rude to me and I will be rude to you,” he said in a public speech. “That’s why I’m rude because they tend to insult me.”
During the campaign period, Duterte said, “Judge me not by my words, not by my etiquette or curses. Judge me for what I stand for.”
Duterte remains popular
While De Lima remains in jail for drug charges and Sereno was ousted by her fellow magistrates, Duterte continues to enjoy public support as evidenced by recent surveys on his popularity.
In the June Pulse Asia survey, Duterte enjoyed an approval rating of 88 percent and trust rating of 87 percent.
Despite suffering an 11-point drop in the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey, Duterte’s satisfaction rating remained “good.”
A statement from Malacañang said Duterte was humbled with his high trust and approval ratings.
“The Palace expresses its gratitude for our people’s continuing vote of confidence for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who remains the most approved and most trusted top national official today,” Roque said.
“The President views these latest survey results with all humility; however, he is not leading the country for the sake of high or good ratings,” he added.
The President’s spokesman said Duterte “is simply fulfilling his campaign promises with the best interest of Filipinos in mind.”
Asked why the President remains popular among Filipinos despite global criticisms, Roque said, “He has delivered on his promises because of his political will.” /je
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