Duterte still up after rape joke; Binay biggest loser
PRESIDENTIAL candidate Rodrigo Duterte is on a roll despite remarks about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary that sparked protests from the Catholic Church and women’s groups and diplomats.
The Davao City mayor emerged as the “clear front-runner” while Vice President Jejomar Binay became the biggest loser, according to results of a survey that Social Weather Stations (SWS) released on Monday.
SWS spokesperson Leo Laroza said the joke may have dented Duterte’s popularity but it did not stop him pulling ahead of his rivals in the poll of 1,800 voters nationwide.
“Mayor Duterte has been steadily gaining ground. It’s a clear lead. The joke could have affected him in such a way that his score could have even been higher had it not been for that news,” Laroza said.
In the April 18-20 SWS survey, Duterte, who has promised the mass killing of suspected criminals, gained 6 points to 33 percent, increasing his lead over her nearest opponent, Sen. Grace Poe, who received 24 percent, a point up from the previous survey round.
Administration candidate Mar Roxas was in third place with 19 percent from 18 percent.
Binay continued his slide, landing in fourth place, with 14 percent, down 6 points from 20 percent.
Miriam Defensor-Santiago was still lagging behind with 2 percent, a drop of a point.
The survey, first published in BusinessWorld, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percentage points for national percentages.
It was conducted shortly after a video circulated showing Duterte making the remark about the missionary during a campaign rally in Quezon City.
Duterte, 71, had told laughing followers that the woman was so beautiful he wished he had been the first in line to rape her—before she was murdered in a jail riot in his city in 1989.
Francisco Magno, president of the Philippine Political Science Association, said the latest figures showed a substantial voting bloc was attracted to “strongman leadership.”
The survey also indicated that issues like women’s rights and human rights in general were secondary for many.
“There is much to be desired about the quality of political education” in the country, Magno said.
He said Duterte also benefited from having three rivals splitting the vote.
If the anti-Duterte forces were eventually to unite behind one of them, that might determine the election results, Magno said.
“He is getting away with the controversial statements and behavior,” said Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science assistant professor at De La Salle University.
Diplomatic ties remarks
But Heydarian said that the survey did not reflect the backlash against Duterte’s dare to the United States and Australia to sever diplomatic ties with the Philippines should he become President after the ambassadors of the two countries expressed dismay over his rape joke.
“I expect some reduction in the next survey but I doubt it will be dramatic,” Heydarian said, noting Duterte’s solid base, particularly in Mindanao.
It will be difficult for Poe, erstwhile front-runner, to take back the lead, he said.
“Poe should present herself as the real candidate for change,” he said, adding it will take a major Duterte meltdown for Poe to take the momentum from him.
Roxas, the Liberal Party standard-bearer, trails badly in surveys.
Despite dramatic economic growth under President Aquino, analysts said Duterte’s appeal stemmed from popular disenchantment with the political elite in a nation where one in four still was living in poverty.
“Duterte’s rise mirrors the revolt of the periphery,” sociologist Randy David wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday.
“It is difficult to see how, under a Duterte presidency, the country can avoid entering another period of political uncertainty,” David added.
A women’s rights advocate, Ana Maria Nemenzo, said Duterte’s ranking in the latest survey reflected poorly on Philippine culture.
“The culture of rape is very much prevalent, it is deep-seated in our machismo system. You can see the men seem to lap up this kind of talk,” she said.
Nemenzo, head of WomanHealth Philippines, said that despite two female Presidents in the past, the reaction to Duterte’s “debasing” remarks showed the country still had far to go.
“If Duterte wins, it’s going to be a tragedy, not only for the women’s movement but for our country,” she added.
Duterte’s rape comments drew widespread condemnation including from the Australian and American ambassadors, while women’s groups filed a complaint in the human rights commission.
But Duterte was undaunted, telling the diplomats to “shut their mouths” and warning he was prepared to sever ties with Canberra and Washington over the affair.
Human rights groups have accused Duterte of leading vigilante death squads that have carried out over a thousand killings in Davao—allegations he has boasted about.
Kill 100,000 criminals
If elected, he said, he would kill 100,000 criminals and dump so many in Manila Bay that the “fish will grow fat” from feeding on them.
In an election debate on Sunday, he even vowed to kill his own children if they ever took drugs.
The camp of Binay on Monday maintained that his core support remained strong.
“No amount of tweaking of results will refute the strong core support for the Vice President,” Rico Quicho, Binay’s campaign spokesperson, said in reaction to the latest SWS survey showing Duterte pulling away from his rivals. Reports from AFP; Ana Roa, Inquirer Research; and Christine O. Avendaño
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