Duterte violated Magna Carta of Women, says CHR

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It's free speech, Magna Carta does not apply, says incoming president

MANILA - (UPDATED) The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has ruled that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte violated the Magna Carta of Women with the statements he made during a campaign rally last April about the 1989 rape-slay of an Australian missionary in Davao City.

In a resolution issued Wednesday, the CHR said it found the words and actions of the Davao City mayor to be discriminatory of women, and asked the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to take appropriate measures.

"The CHR has the sacred constitutional duty to protect human rights and to call out persons when these rights are violated no matter what their position in society may be," CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon, an appointee of outgoing President Aquino, said.

Gascon is also an officer of the Liberal Party (LP) but went on leave after he was appointed head of the CHR last year.

"The Commission believes that this mandate does not exculpate Mayor Duterte from acts committed or words uttered in the course of the electoral campaign when it involves breaches to fundamental rights, in this case, the prohibition of gender-based discrimination and violence," he added.

The CHR's resolution was in response to the complaint filed by women's rights groups against Duterte over his "joke" that "the mayor should have been first" in raping Australian missionary Jaqueline Hamill, who was gang-raped and later killed by prisoners.

"To make the rape of a woman who was later killed a laughing matter, and to treat women as playthings to be taken advantaged of constitute an affront to us and all women," the complaint read.

READ: Duterte faces complaint over rape remark 

Duterte has since apologized to the public, saying he had no intention of disrespecting women nor the victims of the horrible crime.

"Sometimes my mouth can get the better of me. My life is an open book. I am a man of many flaws and contradictions," he said after his remark caused an outrage.

READ: Duterte apologizes for rape remark 

DUTERTE INSISTS IT WAS FREE SPEECH

In a press conference in Davao City which started before midnight on Wednesday, Duterte insisted that the Magna Carta of Women that the CHR said he violated does not apply in his case.

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"The Magna Carta does not apply," Duterte, a lawyer and former prosecutor, said, adding that he was merely exercising his right to free speech.

"'Wag na nilang ipilit. Mapapahiya lang [sila]," Duterte said, adding that the CHR erred in its reading of the law.

"They are too naive. I was relating an event. In a away, that alone, you cannot prevent me from talking. And I am exercising my right to free expression," Duterte argued.

The incoming president did not mince words when he criticized the official or officials behind the CHR resolution.

"Sabihin mo, magresign na s'ya. Anak ng p****g-i**.... Gumagastos yung Pilipino, wala namang kwenta. Wasting the money of the Filipino... Shut up!" Duterte said without mentioning a particular CHR official.

PARAMOUNT INTEREST

In adopting the resolution, MalacaƱang said the CHR has done its duty in fulfilling its mandate and as an advocate of women's right.

"How the incoming President will address matters pertaining to women's rights and dignity during his watch will certainly be of paramount interest to the citizenry," said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma.

"Unlike during the campaign, when he shrugged off criticisms of such remarks, as President he would be expected to demonstrate strong and faithful adherence to the principles enshrined in the Magna Carta for Women and to all the laws of the land."

GENDER SENSITIVITY

Meanwhile, the CHR gave recommendations on what steps other government agencies could take to prevent a similar incident from happening.

The commission said Congress should revisit the Magna Carta of Women and also amend the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act to require all employers to conduct gender sensitivity seminars for all its employees annually.

It said the CSC should also study the passage of a resolution
requiring all government officials to undergo yearly gender sensitivity seminars, and to adopt measures eliminating prejudices that are anchored on the idea of the inferiority of either of the sexes or their stereotypical roles.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should also institute a code of conduct for candidates to adhere to gender-sensitive language during campaigns and to promote the rights of women.

The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and other educational institutions, meanwhile, should incorporate gender sensitivity in their curricula to foster a culture of respect for women's rights, the CHR said.

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