Duterte faces complaint over rape remark


MANILA (UPDATED) - Women's rights groups filed Wednesday a complaint against leading presidential contender Rodrigo Duterte over his controversial statement on the rape-slay of an Australian missionary in 1989.

The coalition Women Against Duterte, led by Ana Marie Nemenzo of WomanHealth Philippines, Jean Enriquez of the World March of Women, Judy Pasimio of Katutubong Lilak, and Josua Mata of SENTRO, said Duterte violated Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

Enriquez said Duterte's statement that "the mayor should have been first" after seeing the face of rape victim Jaqueline Hamill "reflects his low regard for women."

"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.

"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," it added.

CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin "Chito" Gascon personally received the complaint, saying it will have to undergo due process. Commissioners will have an en banc session this week and issue a notice to Duterte to reply to the complaint.

Gascon and the complainants said the complaint is a gender issue and should not be connected to politics. Enriquez said their group is not supporting any particular candidate.

She said the coalition wants to issue a strong statement that trivializing rape and considering a count of rape as "mere jest" and drama contribute to rape culture and the perpetration of violence against women.

The group earlier issued a statement to condemn Duterte's remarks.

"Mayor Duterte, it is not okay to disrespect women. Even if they disagree with you. It is not okay to violate a woman's dignity, whatever their situation in life is. It is not okay to make jokes about rape victims. You victimize them over and over with every joke you make about their tragedy."

Duterte has come under fire for his remarks about the rape of an Australian missionary, saying "the mayor should have been first" after he saw her face.

"T***a, sayang ito. Ang napasok sa isip ko, ni-rape nila. Pinagpilahan nila. Nagalit ako kasi ni-rape. Oo, isa rin yun. Napakaganda. Dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna," he said during the April 13 campaign rally, drawing laughter from his supporters.

He later said he regretted his remark but denied that he meant it as a joke.

READ: Duterte apologizes for rape remark

"I apologize to the Filipino people for my recent remarks," said Duterte, who is the first presidential candidate from the southern island of Mindanao.

"There was no intention of disrespecting our women and those who have been victims of this 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 added.

Several groups and individuals blasted Duterte for his lack of remorse to apologize after uttering the vile remarks.

One group went on to say that Duterte’s remark normalizes rape culture.

"For us who have been working on the issue of sexual violence, including rape, for decades, it really pushes back what we have been doing for a long time—that is, educating the public on the problem with rape, the problem of normalizing it, the problem of creating a rape culture which downplays the harms that rape does to women," said Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific. With a report by Reuters

READ: Duterte rape remark 'normalizes' rape culture: rights group