By Genalyn Kabiling
He has nothing but love and respect for women but President Duterte has urged women to respect his right to free expression, too.
At the awarding ceremony of 10 outstanding women in law enforcement and national security in Malacañang, the President argued that some women deprive him of his freedom of expression whenever they criticize his every word.
“You know you women deprive me of my freedom of expression. Hindi ko sinasabi ko sa inyo ‘yan [I don’t tell you that] but you criticize every sentence or word I say. But that is my freedom to express myself,” he said in his impromptu remarks.
“Even if I am just a President, do not take me away from the crowd of being a Filipino citizen,” he added.
Not a license
But Sr. Mary John Mananzan, the former chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) countered freedom of speech is not a license to say anything you want.
“Freedom of speech is not a license to say anything you want. It must be within the boundaries of law and human decency,” Mananzan said when asked to comment on the President’s complaint.
“Of course, you can say what you want but you may not say libelous words and words injurious to others,” added the nun.
“That’s basic ethical norm and yet he doesn’t know it?” asked Mananzan.
She said Duterte shouldn’t be surprised anymore if more and more women become critical of him.
“So you say insulting and demeaning words to women, then they have the right to criticize you, and condemn what you say,” Mananzan added.
Love and respect
Duterte insisted he loves and respects women but bewailed that his public statements have been misconstrued by his critics.
“Basta ako mahal ko ang babae….It’s not because when I say that I like women that I want to despoil or dishonor. Hindi nila makuha eh [they don’t get it],” the former Davao City mayor said.
“I do not remember disrespecting, dishonoring anybody,” he said.
Citing an example, Duterte lamented that he has been unfairly accused of being a misogynist after he warned women to stay away from priests.
He explained that the remark was made in the wake of the sexual abuses involving some members of the clergy.
He said in jest that the writer, who criticized his alleged misogynist remark, was probably rejected by a priest.
“Kung pati pari ayaw na sa inyo tapos dito kayo magalit sa akin. Wala akong magawa para sa inyo kayong mga babae [If the priest rejected you, then you get mad at me, I can’t do anything for you women],” he said.
“Kaya kayong mga gaga kayo huwag kayong mag ano. It’s the freedom of expression. Kaya sinasadya ko ‘yang ganituhin kasi I’m trying to bring you to the limits of despair [So you silly women, don’t.. it’s the freedom of expression. I make deliberate statements because I’m trying to bring you to the limit of despair],” he said.
Duterte, in his recent visit to Negros Occidental advised women to stay away from priests.
“The women should refrain from going near the priests because when you are near him, he will just smell the scent of your body. And if he corners you in the church, patay ka, he will court you. Do you know why? It’s because he is a man,” he told the gathering last Friday.
Gabriela Women’s party-list group hit back at the President for his reminder, saying why would women take advice from a “self-confessed womanizer and serial misogynist.”
The group said Duterte, whom they described as a “macho-fascist president,” would be the last person to give advice on how women can stay away from abuse. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)