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Digong finally says sorry for rape joke

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Presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte  INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

FINALLY, an apology.

One full week after treating as a joke the 1989 rape-slay of an Australian missionary during a campaign rally, presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally issued a statement apologizing for his remarks “to the Filipino people.”

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The statement came after four bishops led by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines head, Archbishop Soc Villegas, issued strong statements urging voters to think before voting for Duterte.

Until Monday, the mayor had refused to apologize, saying his remarks were “expressed in utter anger over the killing of hostages in 1989.”

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Shortly before noon on Tuesday, however, Duterte sent a five-paragraph statement to reporters apologizing for his remarks, saying “there was no intention of disrespecting our women and those who have been victims of this horrible crime.”

In his statement, Duterte also admitted that what he had said was a mistake. “Sometimes my mouth can get the better of me,” the mayor said in his apology.

Mayor first

But Duterte’s statement made no mention of Australian lay missionary Jacqueline Hamill, who was held hostage, gang-raped and killed in a prison riot in Davao in 1989.

The Davao mayor had recounted the incident in a campaign rally at Amoranto Stadium on April 12, and said that he felt the rape was such a waste.

“She was gang-raped, (the prisoners) had lined up for their turn. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first.  Sayang!” Duterte told his audience who laughed and hooted at his punch line.

Duterte’s remarks were posted on a YouTube video that quickly went viral, and aroused anger and protests from his rivals and netizens.

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Lack of remorse

In a forum in Quezon City on Tuesday, psychiatrist June Pagaduan Lopez described Duterte’s “narcissism and lack of remorse as behaviors of a sociopath.

“Sociopaths have no conscience, they believe that everything they want to do, they can do with impunity, that they will not be punished. They are narcissistic, they don’t care how other people feel,” said Lopez, the president of Citizens’ Network for Psychosocial Response.

Unfortunately, she added, “there’s no cure for sociopathy. (Duterte) is even a confessed murderer.”

“At the very least, if you don’t want to think of (Duterte) as somebody who’s deranged, he is somebody who is EQ-challenged. He has low emotional intelligence,” she said.

In his apology, the self-styled crimebuster said he did not regret what he had done to fight criminality.

“I will not apologize for the things I’ve done to protect our people, especially the weak and defenseless, from crime,” Duterte said, adding that he knew how the victims feel and had witnessed their pain and that of their family.

“I know what it can do to the victims and their families. The anguish and pain they cause. The trauma cannot be erased. I have witnessed these myself numerous times,” he said.

 

Flaws and contradictions

Duterte repeated his earlier statement that his comments on the Hamill rape were provoked by anger.

“I am angry because horrendous things like this continue to happen to our women and children all over our land. And sadly, government has failed to protect them,” he said.

While acknowledging his “many flaws and contradictions,” Duterte said that “when it comes to securing the lives and future of our countrymen and women, you can trust me to do what is right.”

A Pulse Asia survey taken before the Duterte rape remarks and released on Tuesday indicated that Duterte had widened his lead over his nearest rival by 7 points.

Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said the rape remarks would “definitely have an impact” on Duterte’s numbers, but they did not know to what extent.

Also on Tuesday, Liberal Party spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said Duterte’s remarks telling the Australian government “to stay out” of the fray insulted “(an ally) who accepts our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), joined us in making a stand against the theft of our territory (by China), and helped us in improving our economy.”

The mayor had responded to Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely’s statement which said that “rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere.”

Duterte’s rival, Vice President Jejomar Binay, described the mayor’s apology as “insincere,” and said the mayor “has no respect for women, kills children and the poor, and considers himself God who has the power to choose who lives and dies.”

Rape survivor

In a Quezon City forum on Tuesday, a rape survivor challenged Duterte to undergo psychological evaluation for his joke on the rape and killing of Hamill.

“It seems to me there is something amiss with your psychological health because of your perpetual habit of making sexist remarks and rape jokes,” a tearful Trish Kaye Leone addressed the Davao mayor in the Miriam College forum that gathered peace advocates and members of women’s groups.

Leone expressed empathy with other rape survivors whose traumatic memories from the experience may have been triggered by the issue.

“Making rape jokes contribute to the rape culture. Rape jokes trivialize the gravity of the crime. It gives the impression that society should accept rape as normal when it is not,” she said.

 

Draft complaint

Among the speakers in the forum were former Sen. Leticia Ramos Shahani, columnist Paulynn Sicam, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Aurora Javate de Dios and Renee Karunungan.

The gathering called on the public to cast their votes for a President “who respects (women), our place in society and our dignity.” The group also drafted a complaint against Duterte for violation of the Magna Carta of Women.

“As a public official, an incumbent mayor of Davao City, and now seeking to win the highest position of the land, Mr. Duterte is expected to be an exemplar of a respectable, law-abiding citizen. Instead, he arrogantly flaunts his power over these women and diminishes their worth as human beings,”  the draft complaint read.

The complaint will be filed in the Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday, said Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

Enriquez said the complaint was based not just on the rape joke, but also on other actions showing Duterte’s “callous, derogatory and insulting treatment of women,”  that had him kissing them and making them sit on his lap during campaign sorties.

The complainants included WomanHealth Philippines, Kasarinlan para sa Kalayaan, Sentro ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas, Labor Education and Research Network, and Sagip-Ilog Pilipinas.

 

Necrophilia

In Lucena City, activist priest Robert Reyes described Duterte’s rape joke as “morbid and bordering on necrophilia.”

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said the mayor’s statement revealed the country’s “misfortune of having no real respectable leader.”

In a text message to the Inquirer, he said he was advising voters “to choose none of the above (candidates).

Calapan Bishop Warlito Cajandig described Duterte’s style as “unacceptable … we also have conventions and standards,” he said.  With reports by DJ Yap; Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Maricar Cinco and Madonna T. Virola, Inquirer Southern Luzon; and the wires

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