MANILA Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Monday reminded critics of President Rodrigo R. Duterte that protecting the rights of women remains a top priority of the Chief Executive, despite joking about the reason why his hometown, Davao City, had the highest cases of rape in 2018.
The human rights critics and PRRD's detractors are nitpicking again and making a (fuss) about a statement about many beautiful women being raped in Davao making it a basis for accusing him of misogyny, Panelo said in a press statement.
Panelo explained that Duterte's critics always distort the meaning of his comments when the President was merely advancing a theory that beautiful women perpetuated rape culture.
They always distort the intended meaning of the President's comment. PRRD was merely priding himself to the fact that Davao, from where he is from and Mayor for 23 years , abounds with beautiful women and at the same time advancing a theory that their being beautiful could be one motivating reason why the rapists sexually abuse them, Panelo said.
The lawyer pointed out how Duterte reveres his late mother, Soledad, and has put in place projects and measures that protect the rights of women and advance their cause.
During his term as Davao City mayor, Duterte was able to implement a local version of the Health Law even before it was legislated on the national level.
Duterte also established the Health and Wellness Center, which provides family planning alternatives.
He also supported the Davao City Council's effort to pass into ordinance the Women's Code in 1997, which paved the way for the massive campaign against gender bias in government offices.
As President, Duterte banned the deployment of overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait to protect female migrant workers from abuse and exploitation.
He also signed Executive Order No. 12, which seeks to attain and sustain "zero unmet need for modern family planning" through the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.
Moreover, he said Duterte has given recognition to women of distinction by appointing them to his Cabinet and in other high offices in the government, the latest of which, is putting a woman at the helm of a male-dominated Supreme Court.
Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is the most recent female secretary to join the Duterte Cabinet. Newly-appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro is the first female chief justice in the Philippines.
Maria Lourdes Sereno was the first woman to be appointed as chief justice in 2012 but her appointment was invalidated by the Supreme Court in May for failure to fully disclose her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth.
More liberal in the South
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended Duterte's remark, noting that the standard of what is offensive and what is not offensive is more liberal in the South.
I don't think we should give too much weight on what the President says by way of a joke. Some may not approve but you know, I can tell you this already, there's a difference between sense of humor in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, Roque said.
And from what I have seen myself although I'm from Luzon, people in the South particularly in Cebu and the Visayas, they don't really take things as seriously as people in Luzon, he added.
Gabriela Women's Party condemned Duterte's remark about rape calling it a flamboyant display of misogyny, which places more Filipino women at risk of rape.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also slammed the President's comment and urged him to stop blaming women for how they looked and how they dressed, saying rapists, not beauty, caused rape. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency