DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 February) — Like previous controversial statements, President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to soldiers to shoot the private parts of female guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) will likely be dismissed as a joke but “encouraging violence against women” is no laughing matter.
A militant women’s group on Sunday described the President as “macho fascist” and the “epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled into one” for “encouraging violence against women.”
Before 217 New People’s Army (NPA) surrenderers Wednesday night in Malacanang, Duterte in a speech delivered in Cebuano, said soldiers should get even with the NPA and if there are women fighters, “pusila sa bis_ng aron” (shoot their vagina) because “og wa na ma’y bis_ng, wa na ma’y silbi” (without that, they are useless).
The crowd, which included 48 women surrenderers Duterte vowed to send to Hong Kong for vacation, laughed.
He said soldiers should be informed of the mayor’s new order, referring to him (Duterte was mayor of Davao City for 22 years), on dealing with female NPA guerrillas: “Di lang daw mo patyon. Pusilon lang mo sa bis_ng arong —” Og wa na ma’y bis_ng, wa na ma’y silbi” (You will not be killed. They will shoot your vagina because without that, you are useless).
“Incorrigible,” said a leader of a women’s group, a supporter of Duterte who requested not to be named. “Wa sya naghuna-huna nga naa sya mga anak ug apo nga babaye?” (He did not think of his female children and grandchildren?”)
Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Duterte’s statement “openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the governemnt right now.”
The President is “dangerously pushing” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “commit more bloody human rights violations and grave abuses of international humanitarian law, and takes state terrorism against women and the people to a whole new level,” she added.
Retired Professor Rufa Cagoco-Guiam of General Santos City said “this is the person who does not have any respect for women at all; doesn’t he realize that he comes from the bis_ng of a significant woman in his life, his own mother? Without that precious part of his mother, he would not be in this world!”
Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado of Davao City, said: “Lisud man mo react kay basin moingon ra pud dayon Malacanang joke ra man to. Pero sa tinuod lang kung gusto sa mga kalalakin-an magpinatyanay, hala pag away mo hangtod mangahurot inyo kontra..ngano mamusil pa man mog bis_ng? (It’s difficult to react because Malacanang might belatedly say, oh it’s just a joke. But seriously, if these men want to fight and finish each other, why target women’s vagina?)
Davao City-based Mags Maglana, a Mindanawon who has worked in various capacities for peace, good governance, sustainable development and the promotion of human rights, wrote: “Wrong on so many levels. From a leader hailed and defended as having championed women’s rights and a deep understanding of why a revolution is still raging. And the embarrassing response of an audience that supposedly once took part in that revolutionary movement.”
“We have been reduced to our genitalia,” she said.
Protected by law
Fidelina Avellanosa-Valle, writer and Professor of Humanities based in this city said “it is really sad that the leader of this land could stoop so low by uttering such deplorable statements unbecoming of a President, encouraging his troops to violate laws pertaining to the protection of women against violence, clearly flaunting his contempt for women revolutionaries.”
Valle, who finished her MA in Humanities major in Women Studies at the St. Scholastica’s Colllege, said the President “did not even consider that these women, as recognized by Women’s Development Code in Davao City, have been ‘inadequately protected by the law from cases of violence. Patriarchal laws view women as the property of men and are more concerned with the violation of their chastity rather than of their persons.'”
“How could the highest official of the land say such things against women?,” Valle asked, adding that as former prosecutor, “he should know about national laws and local ordinances aimed to regulate the prevailing gender asymmetry in roles and status in society. But then he chose to even encourage his troops to do unimaginable violence against women revolutionaries.”
Olive Tripon, freelance writer and editor, said “the women in his family should tell him to stop it. PCW (Philippine Commission on Women), too.”
For Hawaii-based Mindanawon anthropologist and professor Patricio Abinales, “being consistent lang si Digong sa pagbastos sa mga isog ug may prinsipyong mga kababaihan. Kay morag hadlok man ni sya sa ilaha” (Duterte is just being consistent in shaming women who are courageous and principled. It seems like he is afraid of them).
“You should not have given birth”
In the same speech, Duterte addressed women who joined the NPA: “Mga babae, apil apil pa gyud mo, unsa man mo oy? Naay uban ninyo… naay uban ninyo ha, musulod mo sa kalihukan, naa mo’y pamilya. Di man gani mo kabalik ngadto pila ka tuig” (Why are you women participating in this? Some of you entered the movement, you have families. How many years have you not visited them?)
He said the female guerrillas could not go home during Christmas, New Year, the birthday of the children, the mother’s birthday because they are afraid the soldiers might arrest them.
He asked whey they brought out people into this world but neglected them. “Eh di wala na lang unta mo nanganak” (You should not have given birth), he said.
He said there are free birth control pills so why give birth to six or seven children and still join the NPA, go to war and leave their loved ones behind?
“Kawawa. Naawa ako sa tao. Sa tao ba, human being in front of me. Growing up. Magdako wala’y nanay ug tatay. O dili patay na ang tatay kay nag NPA so ang nanay ang nagka-gidlay diha” (A pity. I ppity the human being in front of me, growing up without a mother or father) Or the NPA father is dead so the mother is left to fend for themselves).
De Jesus said Duterte’s statement “should never go uncontested at a time when the military is escalating its war offensives and red-tagging across the country on supposed enemies of the government.”
“We cannot just take these vile remarks sitting down,” she said, adding thousands of women are expected to mass up in Mendiola, Manila on February 14 for the #1BillionRising dance, a global movement against all forms of violence against women.
Women from various sectors will give Duterte “a grand condemnation in a huge protest against his regime’s tyrannical and anti-poor policies in Mendiola on the commemoration of the International Women’s Day on March 8, she added. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)