VP Leni tells Duterte to be careful with words after sexist remark: ‘It affects all Filipino women’

Published January 17, 2021, 11:26 AM

by Raymund Antonio

President Rodrigo Duterte’s sexist remarks about women’s inability to hold positions of power impacts the fight for gender equality and women’s rights, Vice President Leni Robredo said, adding that he should be cautious of his remarks about women.

Vice President Leni Robredo

Speaking on her Sunday radio show, Robredo called out the president for saying women are ill-suited for the presidency.

“We are fighting a lot for women empowerment and gender equality. But if the president says something like this, it is not helping us in our fight. It deflates the campaign,” she said in Filipino.

“Part of his responsibility is to be circumspect with his statements. He is the president. He is not an ordinary person whose statements will only be heard by those around him,” Robredo continued.

Duterte said during a public speech that he talked with his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, about her plans to seek the presidency. Although insisting that she isn’t interested to be president, Duterte-Carpio ranked first in several opinion polls.

The President said he advised his daughter not to run for the presidency because “this (presidency) is not for a woman.” He added that “the emotional setup of a woman and a man is totally different.”

Robredo said she doesn’t need to come to the aid of her gender, adding that Duterte’s views on women did not surprise her.

The opposition leader argued instead that women chief executives around the world proved during the pandemic that they are fit for the job.

“In fact, during the pandemic, the best-performing countries (in mitigating the impact of the pandemic) are led by women,” she said.

Several female leaders have been shown to manage the coronavirus pandemic effectively. Among others, these are Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern in New Zealand.

But what Robredo is lamenting more is the fact that the President’s disparaging statements do not only have an impact on the fight for women empowerment and gender equality, but also on how every Filipina sees herself.

“When the president says such remarks, it affects everyone. This is not just about me or Mayor Sara or other women leaders. These are not the values that we believe in. What we believe in is respect for women and the importance of women’s participation in governance.”

Robredo herself has been the recipient of multiple awards, including Thailand’s Honorary Outstanding Women Award in Southeast Asia. She also runs a tight ship, with her office getting the highest Commission on Audit (COA) rating since she assumed office.