Senator Leila M. de Lima lashed out at President Duterte for regarding women as a "commodity" as he promised soldiers fighting in Marawi a free trip to Hong Kong with any actress of their choice as reward for their bravery.
De Lima, a staunch advocate for women's rights and human dignity, said Duterte's brand of humor continues to offend women and should never be tolerated at all.
"It wasn't the first time he made women a subject of his foul statements. Duterte likes to feed his deep-seated machismo by showing disrespect to the other sex, and this commodification of women should stop now," she said.
During his second visit to war-torn Marawi last week, Duterte promised the soldiers fighting the ISIS-inspired Maute group to be rewarded a free trip to Hong Kong with their partners or a celebrity of their choice once the terrorists are wiped out in the province.
"May prize ako sa inyo, 'yung mga tigas... Valor... Hong Kong siguro -- libre 'yan. Kung gusto mo magdala ng partner, asawa [pwede]... kung ayaw mo naman, sabihin mo, ituro mo 'yung artista na gusto mo, pakiusapan natin," Duterte reportedly said.
It was the latest in a series of crude statements by the former Davao mayor who proudly boasts of having mistresses and often makes sexual remarks about women, especially in public television.
But whether Duterte's most recent remark was intended as a joke or not, De Lima said the statement should not be taken lightly because it actively encourages possible military abuses involving women.
"It is disturbing for anyone to suggest and look at women - celebrity or not -- as an object of desire, let alone if it came from the most powerful person in the Philippines. Duterte is setting a bad example by making it appear that people in power, including his soldiers, can have control over women," she said.
"Let me reiterate that we cannot allow misogynists in positions of power. How can we promote values and respect for women if our very own leaders are the first to violate these rights,?" she asked.
Note that Duterte, who often bombards his language with man-on-the-street curses, joked that soldiers can commit rape with impunity following his declaration of martial law in Mindanao last May.
During his presidential campaign in 2016, Duterte was also criticized for joking about an Australian missionary worker, who was taken hostage, raped and later murdered in Davao in 1989, when he was still mayor of the city. De Lima, who was recognized by Amnesty International as one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders, vowed to continue fighting against injustices while in detention despite the vicious gender-based attacks against her by the President and his lackeys.
Source: Senate of the Philippines