Palace makes light of Duterte ‘confession’
Was it another joke meant to entertain his audience, or a kiss-and-tell episode from a President known for flaunting his many conquests?
No, it was “just a made-up laughable anecdote meant to dramatize the sexual abuse inflicted on him,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech in Kidapawan City on Saturday, where the Chief Executive recounted his confession to a Catholic priest about sexually molesting the family’s maid when he was in high school at Ateneo de Davao.
While Malacañang treated the incident lightly, President Duterte’s public confession drew widespread condemnation from critics who described him as “a sick man” for indulging in “disgusting” and “alarming” behavior.
“This is really disgusting. [It was] uncalled for,” said ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro on Sunday. “He is truly a sick man.”
Mr. Duterte recalled that he told the priest how he went to the room of the family’s maid, and proceeded to lift the blanket covering the sleeping woman so he could touch her private parts.
He promptly left the room when the woman awoke, Mr. Duterte said, adding that he then went to the bathroom to do “the usual.” He later returned to the maid’s room and touched her again, this time inserting his finger into her private part.
As his penance, the priest told him to recite five Our Father’s and five Hail Mary’s, “because you will go to hell,” the President recounted.
“That’s how it is … It’s true. It’s true. All of the children went through it,” the President said, as if to pass off the incident as a rite of passage among adolescents.
He added that the priest to whom he confessed his sins had also molested him. “While you are confessing, you are also being touched inappropriately … even if you are young,” the President said.
For the women’s group, Gabriela, the President’s remarks again illustrated why Filipinos did not deserve him as the leader of the nation. “[This is) really alarming. His attack on our culture normalized things that are not normal [to us],” Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus told the Inquirer over the phone. “And he’s actually proud of his shenanigans because he’s narrating them in public.”
But De Jesus said Mr. Duterte’s latest remarks could be just another diversionary tactic to take people’s attention away from the country’s economic woes.
What was more disturbing about the President’s offense was his apparent lack of remorse, noted former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
“What’s utterly surprising was the joy with which he tells the story. That, for me, reflects a fundamental problem with his mindset as a person who is required not only to respect women, but is constitutionally obligated to enforce the laws,” he added.
The President’s latest sexually explicit remarks send a “wrong signal” not only to the youth, but to all government officials who had sworn to uphold the law, Hilbay said, referring to Republic Act No. 8353, or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
The law states that it was also considered rape when “any person … commits an act of sexual assault through oral or anal sex or by inserting an instrument or object into the anal or genital orifice of another person.”
Added Hilbay: “It’s not [so much] that he did it when he was young. Because even as he speaks about it now, there’s no sense of remorse. It’s like a current memory that he seems to enjoy … as if he were trying to entertain the crowd with that kind of outrageous behavior.”
Panelo played down the President’s remarks.
“In his inimitable allegorical style of dramatizing the sexual abuse [he] suffered when he was a minor, the President has made up a laughable anecdote,” Panelo said.
“[Mr. Duterte] purposely added and spliced the story with vulgarity to characterize the behavior of the priest who insisted [on hearing] more sins during their confession when there were none,” he added.
“The President has evolved an unorthodox and mischievous method of exposing and criticizing the hypocritical practices of those men in religious cloak,” Panelo said.
Despite criticisms, Panelo said the President will not stop using shocking statements to say what he wants.
“The President will not discard his shocking and amusing out-of-the-box utterances that have been his political signature, which have endeared him to the masses, and which he finds effective in transmitting to the nation his political and social dogmas,” Panelo said. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
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