Lugar Lang | Alt-Duterte speaks up on women’s rights

BREAKING NEWS: In an alternate universe, Alt-President Rodrigo Duterte held a press conference, speaking for himself in response to the campaign #BabaeAko #LalabanAko. Instead of Spokesperson Harry Roque excusing the president’s recent statements against women holding key positions in government by saying he actually loves women too much, Alt-Duterte recanted his own statements and sincerely apologized for making them.

He explained that he has since attended a Gender and Development seminar and that the techniques used by the resource persons have effectively changed his views on women. He further revealed that one of these techniques was called a lobotomy. He shared that after the procedure, he felt like a new man. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

“My dear countrymen and women, or better yet, citizens, I apologize for the many anti-women statements I have made in the past, even before I was elected president. I now realize that rape should never be made a joking matter, and that the pernicious rape culture in Philippine society must not be fostered. I will never again promote violence against women. The change starts with me because I know now that as president, what I say is construed as policy. I have learned that women do not exist solely to fulfill the sexual pleasures of men and that their physical appearance is not always meant to entice men. Thus, I promise never again to make references to the legs of the women in my cabinet as distracting. I also promise never to compliment them on their beauty while also touching them inappropriately and making other salacious remarks.

Furthermore, I have read Republic Act 9710 Magna Carta of Women Implementing Rules and Regulations very carefully with an open mind (literally) and memorized its general policy, “the State affirms the role of women in nation building and ensures the substantive equality of women and men. It shall promote empowerment of women and pursue equal opportunities for women and men and ensure equal access to resources and to development results and outcome. Further, the State realizes that equality of men and women entails the abolition of the unequal structures and practices that perpetuate discrimination and inequality.” Thus, I am retracting my statement about denying women pivotal positions in government. I was wrong. I have violated the law of the land.

To show my sincerity, I am now ordering that Senator Leila de Lima be released from prison, particularly because there is no evidence of her actual involvement in the drug trade. I am also requesting the Supreme Court to review their decision on the quo warranto case against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, because I recognize it now as an unjust and unconstitutional ruling that is tantamount to harassment. To ensure equal treatment before the law and a just ruling, I am also requesting the six biased Justices to inhibit themselves from the case.

In a similar vein, I have scheduled a meeting with Vice President Leni Robredo to discuss how she can rejoin my Cabinet, to which she rightly belongs as second-in-command. Of course, part of the agenda is apologizing for the ways by which I have myself treated her unfairly and deprived her of her equal rights as a woman and as a duly-elected public official.

I know that this is merely scratching the surface of the misogyny I have fostered since I started serving in government. Although my loyalists always attribute the Women Development Code in Davao City to me because I was mayor then, I would like to acknowledge that it is in fact the triumph of feminist groups who have tirelessly worked since the 1980s to get me and the city council to sign it. I am not the father of women’s empowerment in Davao City. I also realize now that it is not enough to have the Code; I now urge the Integrated Gender and Development Office to seriously monitor the implementation of its rules and regulations. The true power of any law is in its implementation.

I hope the women and men who have led and joined the #BabaeAko campaign will continue in their efforts to ensure that women are treated equally in our society. I am myself a work-in-progress and will appreciate it when any of you call me out for future lapses in my behavior. For now, I assure you that this is a battle you have rightly won. And today marks the beginning of a new chapter in my presidency. Mabuhay!”

Feminists in the Philippines and abroad hailed this new Duterte and expressed hope that this will bring about the real change that he had promised during the campaign. They also reiterated that women’s rights are human rights, and hoped that the Alt-Duterte administration will finally end the drug war that has trampled upon the rights of so many victims.

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Posted in Opinion