Duterte cites freedom of expression to defend rape joke, Uson

Published September 3, 2018, 12:39 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

JERUSALEM, Israel — President Duterte defended his latest controversial rape joke by saying that is how people control themselves when they are tempted to commit the act.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PCOO/ MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PCOO/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Duterte made the statement during his meeting with members of the Filipino community here late Sunday evening (Israel time).

In his speech, Duterte said that beautiful women are what is keeping him healthy. However, he said that his remark will probably be labeled again by his critics as misogynistic.

“Alam mo ang — bakit ako medyo mataas ang buhay ko at saka medyo ma-ano ako? Medyo nakakalakad pa ako ng… Alam mo bakit? Bakit? Dahil sa magandang Pilipina. At marami ‘yan (Do you know why I am still strong and is still able to walk? It is because of the beautiful Filipinas, and there are lots of them),” Duterte said.

“Sabihin na naman nilang misogynist ako, woman [hater] (Now they will be saying again that I am a misogynist, a woman hater),” he added.

Duterte cited as an example his recent joke about the high number of rape cases in Davao City. Last week, Duterte attributed the said crime rate to the number of beautiful women in his bailiwick.

“Hindi ko naman sabi ni-rape lahat ‘yan (I never said that all of them are raped). But you are almost mesmerized or tempted. That’s how you control yourself. It is a democracy. Freedom of expression,” he said.

Last week, Duterte was criticized for making the rape joke. Malacañang, however, downplayed Duterte’s jest, saying people should not put too much weight on the President’s jokes.

“I think the President is mature enough to know to what extent he can go, and he thinks this is not putting it too low,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had explained.

Duterte, meanwhile, also used the freedom of expression card to defend Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary Mocha Uson from critics amid calls for her dismissal.

Uson was under fire anew for her controversial video which featured a lewd dance to talk about the government’s proposed shift to federal constitution.

In his speech, Duterte recognized that Uson may have gone too far on some instances but said she has the right to freedom of expression.

“There are things na tingin ko medyo nasobrahan (I think there are things where she went too far). But just the same as a President who is sworn to protect the constitution and enforce it, it is covered with ‘yung privilege nila (their privilege) — freedom of expression,” he said.

“Kung ano ‘yang gusto niyang sabihin, que ma-empleyado siya ng opisina ko o sa labas ((Whatever she wants to say, even if she’s a government worker or) as a private citizen, that is not really my concern. As long as it is covered sa provision ng (in the provision in the) Constitution — freedom of expression,” he added.

This was not the first time Duterte defended Uson by pulling out the freedom of expression card. In June this year, it was reported that Duterte told Uson to apologize to actress Kris Aquino after the celebrity took offense when Uson mentioned her late parents in a Facebook post to defend Duterte’s controversial kiss with a married Filipina in South Korea.

Uson, however, despite getting orders from the President, refused to apologize to Aquino. Duterte then said he won’t force Uson to apologize if she does not want to, saying she has freedom of expression.