“We women have proven our worth and power in different levels, by joining forces with the numerous struggling masses.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) did not take sitting down President Duterte’s latest tirade against women in front of “former rebels” and military officials on Feb. 7 at the Malacanang Palace. In her privilege speech in the House of Representatives on Monday, Feb. 12, GWP Rep. Emmi De Jesus said Duterte’s remark is “very dangerous and alarming as it openly promotes state violence against women, further contributes to the climate of impunity of women’s rights abuses, and emboldens state forces to commit more violations of international humanitarian law.”
“This elevates state terrorism to a whole new level,” she added.
Speaking in Visaya, Durte said in front of the military officials and the alleged surenderees, “There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vaginas so that…If there are no vaginas, it would be useless.”
Duterte’s remark has flooded the headlines including that of international news organizations.
It is clear in Duterte’s speech that he ordered soldiers to shoot women guerillas’ vaginas, De Jesus said.
She added that Duterte’s remark is not a laughing matter referring to the audience who laughed at Duterte’s speech. “How could a statement such as that be acceptable? It was even made inside the Presidential Palace and uttered by no less than the President,” she said.
Duterte just presented himself as a macho-fascist leader, said De Jesus. He enjoys using state sponsored violence to suppress women who are fighting for the rights of the people. She stressed that the armed conflict should not be used as a reason to trample on women’s dignity.
“As we aggressively push, together with our fellow women legislators, for measures here in the House of Representatives that will uplift the status of women in the social, cultural and political fields, unfortunately we have a President who exactly does the opposite. We have a chief executive who casually and consistently degrades, disrespects and offends women and then reasons out that it is just a piece of presidential humor,” De Jesus said in her speech.
‘Duterte inciting war crimes’
Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan said Duterte’s recent remark is the “latest of the series of this madman’s display of tyranny, lunacy and machismo.”
“Duterte has distinguished himself as a frothing-in-the-mouth fascist, who incites the worst violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) aside from his exhortations to his State forces to disregard basic human and people’s rights,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
The group has listed several instances, mostly through his speeches in front of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that incite commission of war crimes:
Feb. 9 – in a speech in Davao City, Duterte said: “To the Lumad who will be members of the CAFGU, for every NPA you kill, I’ll pay you…you want money? I’ll give you money. I will make it P20,000 ($386) per head.”
Feb. 7 – in a remark before alleged rebel-surrenderees in Malacanang, Duterte said: “Are there any women holding guns?’ ‘Sir, she’s a fighter. An amazon.’ ‘Shoot her in the vagina.”
Nov. 29, 2017 -in a speech in Sual, Pangasinan, Duterte said soldiers should shoot and kill armed NPA rebels: “Shoot them! They will kill you anyway. If there is an armed NPA there or terrorist holding any firearms, shoot … I’ll answer for you.”
July 25, 2017 – in a press conference held after his State of the Nation Address, Duterte threatened to bomb schools of indigenous peoples in Mindanao: “Leave. I’m telling those in the Lumad schools now, get out. I’ll bomb you. I’ll include your structures.”
May 31, 2017 – in a speech during the Philippine Navy’s anniversary rites in Davao City, Duterte threatened to arrest negotiators and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines: “I’m warning the leaders who are talking to representatives of my government. Do not attempt to come home. I will arrest all of you and throw you in the slammer, I will imprison you and all the elderly I will arrest you again. If needed, you will just die there inside the prison. You cannot run anymore … so, stop fucking the government.”
May 26, 2017 – in a speech before soldiers of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry (Magbalantay) Brigade of the Philippine Army in Iligan City, Duterte joked that soldiers could rape up to three women and that he will take responsibility for this and other acts of his men in line with martial law in Mindanao: “If you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible. Just do your job, I will take care of the rest… If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.”
March 9, 2017 – Duterte ordered the AFP and the Philippine National Police to use all its assets, including newly acquired jets and drop bombs on NPA rebels: “Go ahead! Flatten the hills! If there’s collateral damage, then sorry.”
Palabay said these statements of Duterte’s only emboldened State forces to commit more human rights violations as these are considered orders from a commander-in-chief of the military.
She also cited the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which stipulates human rights and IHL principles and standards that applies to civilians or those taking no active part in the hostilities; combatants who have surrendered or laid down their arms; those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds or any other cause; persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict; and relatives and duly authorized representatives of above-named persons.
Palabay said peace advocates, communities and human rights activists have constantly demanded for the Philippine forces’ compliance with the CARHRIHL amid several violations.
CARHRIHL was the first agreement signed among five substantive agenda in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. It was signed in March 1998 during President Joseph Estrada’s administration.
“It is thus no wonder, that his foot soldiers in the military up to his minions in the executive branch, the police, and in both houses of Congress have shown the same kind of braggadocio, which is but a mere expression of the Duterte regime’s cowardice to account for its crimes against the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded.
Women rising against fascism
If Duterte thinks that women will become useless by annihilating their genitals, he is mistaken, said De Jesus. She added that women should not be measured based on her vagina or her uterus. She said women proved that they were part of making history; they could rise against abuse and violence and against despotic leaders who degrade women.
“We women have proven our worth and power in different levels, by joining forces with the numerous struggling masses,”she said.
In a statement, One Billion Rising (OBR) founder and artistic director Eve Ensler said Duterte’s statement is “a bloody outrage and every one of us must stand to fight this bloody tyrant.”
“Remember it was the Predator in Chief of America who emboldened Duterte on his last visit and it was right after that dissenters and members of resistance, young women in One Billion Rising were killed and others disappeared. We must stand with Gabriela and all our sisters and brothers rising against macho tyranny in the Philippines,” she said.
On Feb. 14, De Jesus said thousands of women will once again hold the fifth OBR Revolution 2018 with women around the globe to stand against violence against women.
In Manila, women’s group Gabriela will lead the OBR event to express their rage against what they call as Duterte’s rising macho-fascist dictatorship. They will be joined by various women’s groups, students, workers and government employees whowill gather at Remedios Circle 10:00 am on Valentine’s Day.