Several women’s groups filed a complaint against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday for violating Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.
The Women Against Duterte movement, composed of a coalition of women’s rights advocates, environmental and worker’s groups led by Ana Maria Nemenzo of Woman Health Philippines, Jean Enriquez of World March of Women, Judy Pasimio of Katutubong Lilak and Josua Mata of Sentro filed the complaint.
According to the groups, Duterte’s disrespect of women during his speeches have been well-documented.
They cited an uproar caused by the mayor’s statements about the rape and killing of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill.
“To make the rape of a woman who was later killed a laughing matter, and to treat women as playthings to be taken advantaged of constitute an affront to us and all women,” the groups said.
“As a public official, an incumbent mayor of Davao City, and now seeking to win the highest position of the land, Mr. Duterte is expected to be an exemplar of a respectable, law-abiding citizen. Instead, he arrogantly flaunts his power over these women and diminishes their worth as human beings,” they added.
CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon personally received the complaint.
The commission, he said, will ask Duterte to reply to the complaint.
The groups noted that they are not supporting any particular candidate but they just wanted to point out that Duterte’s statements encourage a culture of rape and disrespect of women.
The CHR also expressed grave concern over the mayor’s trivialization of rape in his statements.
Officials of the commission said it is their role to investigate and make Duterte accountable for his statements.
“As monitor of the State’s compliance with Cedaw, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, it is the commission’s role to monitor how the State and State actors perform the obligation of condemning discrimination against women in all its forms and in pursuing all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women,” the CHR said in a statement.
“At the onset, and prior to the formal consideration of the case as filed, the commission reiterates its previous issuances on the trivialization of rape. It reiterates that rape and accounts of rape should never be trivialized and dismissed. Rape is one of the gravest forms of violence against women; it is an act of violence and aggression that is gender- specific in character which hurts, humiliates, subjugates and degrades women. Trivializing rape and considering accounts of rape as ‘mere jests’ contribute to rape culture and to the perpetration of violence against women,” it added.
The commission said it is the state’s obligation under Cedaw and the Magna Carta of Women to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and to observe “due diligence” in respecting, protecting and fulfilling women’s human rights to non-discrimination and to the enjoyment of equality.
“Candidates, most especially those seeking the highest office in the land, are reminded to be cautious in making statements that wittingly or unwittingly undermine the rights of women,” the CHR added.
An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) also joined the widespread condemnation of Duterte.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon also on Wednesday said Duterte’s pun about the rape and murder of Hamill was inappropriate and inhuman.
“And Rodrigo Duterte, a presidential candidate, makes a disgusting ‘joke’ about it, talking about rape and murder victim Jacqueline Hamill, an Austrialian missionary, who was taken hostage in Davao City prison, as if she was not a human being,” Guanzon pointed out.
The commissioner said as chairman of the Comelec’s Gender and Development Committee, she will propose a Code of Conduct for candidates and will push for reforms in election rules to emphasize gender sensitivity and gender equality.