President Rodrigo Duterte spoke about women empowerment at a virtual event in line with Women’s Month this March, a gesture which was seen as a hypocritical given his history of lewd, derogatory language toward women.
Duterte joined other keynote speakers at the online forum series called “Juana Laban sa Pandemya, Kaya!” that the Philippine Commission on Women hosted in partnership with the United Nations Women Asia and the Pacific on Wednesday.
Other speakers include female officials of PCW, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Mindanao Affairs and Special Concerns Marjorie Jalosjos and a handful local provincial mayors.
In his pre-recorded message, Duterte urged Filipinos to champion initiatives that promote women empowerment.
“I urge our people to participate in advocacies and activities that promote women empowerment. The government recognizes the role of women in nation-building and upholding the fundamental equality before the law of both genders,” the president said.
“Let us all work hand-in-hand to address the needs of women and honor their immense contribution to society. Mabuhay ang ating kababaihan,” he added.
Such non-violent message, however, ran counter to Duterte’s track record of rape jokes, insults and other offensive remarks about women which he uttered in other public events in the past.
Why Duterte’s speech was deemed ‘hypocritical’
Critics remembered instances Duterte courted large-scale controversies for his statements.
One user cited his rape joke during a ceremony at the Philippine Military Academy in 2019 and his admission of molesting a maid back when he was a teenager in a speech the year before.
— nessa (@utopianpages) March 3, 2021
Another user quipped that the “women” whom Duterte might be referring to exclude female reporters who are critical of his policies, members of the opposition and Vice President Leni Robredo.
"go kababaihan tayo, mga mi, except sa bise presidente, mga babaeng reporter/media, at mga kritiko." https://t.co/kzvMxbLQ57
— gabo | magparehistro't bumoto! (@yourlologab) March 3, 2021
Others expressed their ire in the form of gifs and sarcastic tweets.
“Hi daw po sabi nung rape jokes and misogynistic remarks niyo (smiling face with hearts emoji),” a Twitter user said.
Twitter user @_QuePasaChica_ pointed out Duterte’s latest rant against Robredo, wherein he told her to die in a national address.
“After wishing the Vice President dead for merely asking for better vaccines, you have the gall to speak about women? Such hypocrisy!” the user said.
Duterte took a portion of his regular briefing on March 1 to rant against the vice president after she aired her grievances over China’s Sinovac vaccine, which the former preferred to be inoculated with.
Sinovac was also the first brand to arrive in the Philippines last February 28.
“Mamatay ka na. Hindi…hindi ko iwanan ‘yong mga frontliners and you do not need to really be redundant about it,” he said.
Last January, during talks about some people urging his eldest daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte running for presidency, the president said that he discouraged her from doing so. He then claimed that the top government post is supposedly not fitting for a woman.
“And my daughter, they are prodding her to run. I told them: ‘My daughter is not running’. I have told Inday not to run (because I have walked down that road). It’s not for a woman,” he said.
“The emotional setup of a woman and a man is totally different. Maging g*go ka dito. That is the sad story. But there are people who are insisting,” Duterte added.
Several other prominent women in politics and journalism have also been victims of the chief executive’s remarks which were perceived sexist and misogynistic.
These include Romulo-Puyat, GMA reporter Mariz Umali, Leila de Lima and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
In 2018, Duterte also drew widespread condemnation for kissing a female overseas Filipino worker on the lips at a public event during his visit in South Korea.