MANILA - It is disturbing and infuriating to hear President Rodrigo Duterte "brag" about attempting in his teen years to rape a housekeeper, women's rights advocates said Sunday.
Duterte recounted in a speech how he confessed to a priest of the Catholic school he was attending, who would later "touch him," that he went into a maid's room while she was asleep and behaved inappropriately.
The statement about the "crime" as a young man is only the latest in Duterte's "countless statements bragging about committing crimes against women and the people," including goading soldiers to rape women in war-torn Marawi City to ordering the bombing and hamletting of lumad communities, said GABRIELA Secretary General Joms Salvador.
Remarks, such as what the President delivered in a public speech, "are not benign" and are "very harmful" not only to women, but also to men in terms of how they perceive women. These also reopen the wounds incurred by victim-survivors of sexual abuse, said #BabaeAko co-founder Jean Enriquez.
"Yung mga pananalita ng Pangulo sa kasalukuyan ay lubhang nakakagalit para sa amin. Hindi na kasya yung poot ng kababaihan sa kaniya. Kailangan rin ang poot ng kalalakihan para hindi pamarisan ang ganitong klase ng opisyal ng pamahalaan," she told ANC's Dateline Philippines.
Duterte's statement pushes back the victories scored by Filipinas in having laws against rape and prostitution culture passed, she said.
She warned, the President's revelation of an "attempted rape" endangers domestic workers in the Philippines and abroad because it emphasizes the "very low regard for women and also that of employers towards domestic workers."
"Apparently, this is not just something that he wanted to stay in the secrecy of the confessional box because he consistently flaunts his sexual abuses, practices," she said.
Enriquez noted, Duterte also said on December 22 that men need women after battles. This statement normalizes the treatment of women as sex objects or as entertainment in prostitution, she said.
"We have been in the forefront of the anti-trafficking law that also prohibits the sexual use of women as entertainment or as prostituted persons. Definitely, may impact yung mga statements," she said.
While Duterte might be "emboldened" by the immunity a chief executive enjoys while in power, Enriquez hopes public officials would be held accountable for their statements and actions if not during their term in office then after.
She also hopes the public would remain critical of statements such as this latest one from the president.
"My call is to the Filipino people to be more critical and to also keep on educating the children that they should not emulate leaders like this," she said.