MANILA (UPDATE) – Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte and the misogynistic culture she believes the latter is nurturing.
“That’s our president,” De Lima said after playing several clips of Duterte’s controversial statements at the “Buhay at Babae” forum sponsored by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
“By the mentality that it’s okay to make jokes about them, and we are being “overly sensitive” or “KJ” (kill joy) by not finding them appropriate -- kaya siguro ang ilan sa atin, without even realizing it, laugh along or, at least, huff out an amused breath or perhaps smile a little to indicate we have a sense of humor.”
De Lima lamented that she has been the subject of vicious attacks on social media, following Duterte’s criticisms of her alleged affair with her former driver and body guard, Ronnie Dayan.
During her speech, De Lima did not directly address her alleged affair with Dayan, but she assailed allegations that she starred in a sex video with him. For her, no woman must be punished for embracing her sexuality.
“Not because only women have or experience it – if all the phallic jokes and fascination with the sexual act and footage thereof is any indication – but because… well, apparently because we are women and, apparently, we have no right to own and enjoy our sexuality,” De Lima said.
“Men can boast about all the women they’ve bedded and conquered. But it’s a mortal sin if a woman even dares to embrace her sexuality.”
De Lima said the slew of offensive and sexist comments against her on social media indicates that Filipinos’ moral fiber is starting to break down.
“This is not about having a sense of humor but having sensitivity towards real issues affecting women. By allowing ourselves to be bullied into silence, we are unconsciously being groomed to laugh at abuse, and in so laughing become abusers ourselves,” De Lima.
She said, it pains her to see women on social media turning against fellow women.
“Perhaps that’s one of the greatest offenses against our cause,” she said.
“It is perhaps second only to the offense of polluting the minds of the future generation, of passing on a legacy of misogyny, of abusive behavior towards women, of making girls feel lesser in worth than boys, of giving them less freedom and less ownership over their body, their life and their future, of taking away from boys the chance to develop a sense of accountability for their actions that would make them better persons, sons, brothers, partners, husbands and fathers."
‘ONE FLAMING MISOGYNIST’
De Lima also lamented it is not only from Duterte’s scathing statements where she has observed a pattern of misogyny, but from her fellow lawmakers as well.
“I just never realized that, aside from one flaming misogynist, sitting in the highest echelon of power, who thinks rape jokes are actually funny let alone worthy of a President, I would also be working so closely with some of them,” De Lima said.
“I have had to sit there and roll my eyes to the ceiling as ‘unparliamentary’ innuendos about the Visayan term ‘libog’ and the surname of a lawyer for a witness being ‘Malaki’ were made in the middle of a serious matter in order to satisfy their phallic obsession or, perhaps more accurately, insecurities.”
Several lawmakers have sided with De Lima in opposing the plan of Duterte’s allies to play in an House hearing an alleged video of her having sex with Dayan.
The alleged sex video, Duterte’s allies say, would establish De Lima’s ties with Dayan, who has been accused of receiving Bilibid drug money meant for De Lima's 2016 senatorial campaign.
De Lima has become the favorite target of the president after she raised concerns over the latter’s bloody war on drugs and for her probe into the Davao Death Squad when she was human rights chief and justice secretary.
But De Lima is unfazed by the allegations, saying her political enemies have only resorted to offending her womanhood and using the “sex, drugs, and violence” approach to “shield their hypocrisy and incompetence” because of their lack of credible evidence against her.
“Babae ako. Hindi ako nahihiya sa aking pagkababae. Wala akong dapat ikahiya sa aking pagkababae. I don’t deserve to be abused. And when I am abused, it is not because I am at fault, not because I was asking for it, not because I deserved it. But because my abusers aren’t intelligent enough to recognize my value, to appreciate me, and respect me," she said.
"That is the lesson I learned from the Leila I have had the pain and the pleasure to get to know these past few months."