Duterte draws flak for wolf whistle
Amid media outrage over his remarks justifying the killings of corrupt journalists, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has also drawn flak for wolf-whistling a female broadcast reporter on a nationally televised press conference in Davao City on Tuesday night.
Duterte, 71, interrupted a question from GMA 7 reporter Mariz Umali about his Cabinet appointees with a light-hearted comment about her trying to get his attention, then wolf-whistling and breaking into a short serenade.
Umali continued trying to ask her question as Duterte smiled and some other reporters laughed.
In an interview with her network on Thursday, Umali described Duterte’s remarks as “improper.”
She said she would not ask for an apology and sought not to inflame the controversy, but her journalist husband, Raffy Tima, took to Facebook to criticize Duterte.
“Catcalling my wife is wrong in so many levels,” Tima wrote. “Some jokes are funny and should be laughed at but disrespecting women is definitely not one of them.”
Aida Santos, president of the women’s rights group Wedpro, said Duterte’s wolf-whistling was a form of sexual harassment.
“Catcalling treats women as sex objects … some say it’s a way of being cute, but it’s wrong,” Santos told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Duterte and his aides have repeatedly said such controversial comments and actions should not be taken too seriously: that the President-elect is a straight talker and an authentic character who likes to joke and speak the language of the streets.
They also point to Duterte’s prowomen policies in Davao City, which he has ruled as mayor for most of the past two decades.
But Duterte’s jokes sent negative messages to society, according to Elizabeth Angsioco, national chair of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines.
“His words and actions reinforce looking at women as second-class citizens,” she told AFP.
In Quezon City, catcalling women and subjecting them to gestures that supposedly extol their looks in public but are actually demeaning, such as wolf whistles, are now considered crimes under the city’s amended gender and development code.
Other acts punishable under the anticatcalling ordinance include stalking, making offensive hand or mouth gestures aimed at demeaning women, cursing and taunting a woman with talk about sex.
At the same press conference, Duterte created another controversy by saying there was justification for killing corrupt journalists, and that one “rotten son of a bitch” reporter deserved to have been murdered.
The incendiary politician has previously been criticized for comments about women.
On the campaign trail, he made a joke about wanting to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who had been sexually assaulted and murdered in a 1989 prison riot in Davao City.
When his daughter reacted to those comments by revealing she had been raped, Duterte described her in jest as a “drama queen.”
Duterte, whose first marriage was annulled and is in a long-term relationship with another woman, has also openly boasted about having mistresses and using Viagra to have sex with them.
In a post on his Facebook page titled “Catcalling My Wife Is Wrong In So Many Levels,” Tima said what Duterte did was “wrong in so many levels” and “defies logic” for someone who holds the highest post in the land.
“I know his reputation well enough not to be shocked by it, but that does not make it right. For someone who espouses leadership by example, catcalling anyone in a press conference with all cameras trained on him defies logic. Then again, that’s Mayor Duterte,” he said.
He also criticized those who laughed and egged Duterte on by further teasing his wife.
“What appalled me even more was how some people in the room reacted. Most laughed, others made teasing noise and basically urged the mayor to dish some more! And he did. I do hope none of them were journalists because if they were, shame on them,” Tima said.
People should not tolerate what the President-elect did, he said. “When you see or hear anyone say something wrong you do not encourage it, you do the opposite. Or in that particular instance at least, they should have kept [quiet] and in their silence gave the message that what the mayor did was wrong.”
“Some jokes are funny and should be laughed at … but disrespecting women is definitely not one of them,” he said.
Tima’s post has garnered more than 4,600 shares as of posting time.
Umali told her husband that despite Duterte’s actions, she remained firm and composed.
“I was surprised with President Duterte’s response to my question. However, I tried to understand him based on what I know about him, kept my composure and insisted on my answer, which I got,” she said.
Umali had asked Duterte how he would deal with Cabinet members “who are nonperforming” and would he give them a deadline.
The President-elect said in Filipino: “You’re really trying to catch my attention.” He then wolf-whistled, and some people in the audience could be heard laughing and cheering.
Umali just smiled and said, “Mr. President, can I get an answer please?” To which Duterte answered with a song. She repeated the question, and this time, the mayor answered. With a report from AFP
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