Duterte urged to attend Women's Summit
MANILA - A party-list group dedicated to upholding women's rights has reiterated its stance against catcalling, after one of its representatives defended President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for wolf-whistling at a television reporter.
In a Facebook post, Gabriela party-list said Sunday: "Catcalling is improper. It is an uncalled-for act that is demeaning to women."
Duterte, 71, has come under fire for catcalling TV reporter Mariz Umali during a press conference Tuesday.
Umali was asking Duterte about his Cabinet appointee when the President-elect interrupted her with a light-hearted comment about her trying to get his attention, then wolf-whistling and breaking into a short serenade.
Umali continued to ask her question as Duterte smiled and some other reporters laughed. She later said she did not expect an apology from Duterte.
Duterte later told reporters catcalling in public is part of freedom of expression, denying claims that he violated Davao City's Gender and Development Code by disrespecting a married reporter of GMA-7.
"You know, you don't have any business stopping me every time I (whistles). That is freedom of expression," he said.
Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, who ran for councilor of Davao in the May polls, also came to Duterte's defense, saying that catcalling is "not a form of sexual harassment."
Ilagan added that whistling at Umali was the President's "cultural way of communicating" as a Visayan.
"It's not sexual harassment. Whistling is not a form of sexual harassment... Siguro improper lang siya na behavior under the circumstances na hindi dapat ganoon," she said.
"If you are calling the attention of this reporter, you could have used the other way... We have to accept that our President is different and he is working under a cultural way of communicating... Ganoon naman talaga ang mga Bisaya. They are sarcastic. We exaggerate. We make fun, pero accepted naman talaga. It's just a manner of speaking but not the thought, it's not the content."
(READ: Gabriela rep backs Duterte: Ganun talaga mga Bisaya)
Gabriela, however, maintained Sunday that catcalling is an "offensive demeanor" and that there are even ordinances in Quezon City and Davao City that deem it a form of sexual harassment.
The party-list also urged Duterte, as the highest official of the land, to spearhead efforts in educating the public on the respect of women's rights.
"Pres. Duterte has promised change and therefore we expect that he will be true to his word and institute such changes. Gabriela extends its hand of cooperation with the incoming administration in advancing women's vision of good governance and development through socio-economic, political and cultural reforms," the statement read.
In view of advancing pro-women agenda, Gabriela also invited Duterte to a Women's Summit in Davao City this June.
According to the party, the summit shall serve as a venue for Gabriela and other women's groups to "constructively thresh out differences with the President and discuss ways on how violence against women and children must be addressed."
Gabriela earlier criticized Duterte for "womanizing and treating women as objects."