Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte dismissed a complaint filed against him by women’s groups at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for his controversial rape comment.
In a campaign rally in Aklan, Duterte said the complainants were paid to file a case against him.
“You are crazy, binayaran ‘yan [they were paid]. Go to hell. I will not respond to CHR complainants,” he added.
On Wednesday, several women’s groups filed the complaint against Duterte for violating Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.
Duterte said people may criticize him for his statements and “bad mouth,” adding that the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
“I was exercising my constitutional right,” he explained, referring to his remarks about the rape of an Australian lay missionary.
Duterte was in Aklan province on Wednesday after a series of campaign sorties in the Visayas.
But the mayor urged Filipinos to look beyond his curses.
“My mouth shouldn’t be an election issue. The issue should be corruption. Nasaan ang pera ng bayan [Where is the country’s money]?” he said.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) also on Tuesday warned that Duterte, who is notorious for his quick temper, is likely to disrespect press freedom and put the lives of the country’s journalists at even greater risk.
UNA spokesman and former broadcaster Mon Ilagan said there is strong reason to believe that press freedom under a Duterte presidency will be in “mortal danger.”
“It is frightening to imagine the media under a leader who promises a bloody cleansing under his rule but only prey on the poor, the helpless and those who dare to speak against him. He has admitted to being the Davao Death Squad [patron]–a glaring danger sign that the people must heed,” Ilagan added in a statement.
“Our journalists are being attacked left and right. Will we put them in even more danger by choosing a leadership that will suppress press freedom?” he said.
Citing a report by the Reporters Without Borders or RSF, the global score of the Philippines in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index fell 3.47 points from last year’s 41.19.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, UNA standard-bearer, has assured the National Press Club (NPC) that his administration will give priority to resolution of cases of media killings and ensure that the media are protected. The NPC earlier challenged the presidential candidates to state their agenda for the media and media killings.
The Vice President vowed to create an independent commission to investigate summary executions perpetrated by the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS), tagged by the United Nations, Amnesty International and other human rights groups for the killing of thousands of civilians, including minors.
The independent commission will be composed of former Supreme Court justices, human rights groups and the Commission on Human Rights.
“A Binay administration will defend the freedom of the press. [The Vice President] witnessed the suppression of press freedom and the harassment of journalists as a human rights lawyer during martial law. Naniniwala po siyang importante ang mga mamamahayag sa isang demokrasya at bilang Presidente, sisiguruhin po niya na mapoprotektahan ng estado ang media [He believes that journalists are important in a democracy and as President, he will ensure the safety of members of the media],” Ilagan said.
At the same time, Binay also took Duterte to task for the unresolved murders of three journalists, all said to have been “silenced” by the DDS.
The DDS is a vigilante group believed to be the brainchild of Dueterte.
Broadcaster Juan “Jun” Pala was killed in September 2003. Rene Galope, who was critical of Dutere’s management style, was killed in November 2004. Radioman Fernando “Ferdie” Lintuan was ambushed and shot dead on Christmas Eve in 2007, after exposing alleged misuse of public funds in the construction of the Davao People’s Park.
“We cannot have a president with blood in his hands. What we need is a leadership that will be unifying, will help the poor that are often suspected of crimes, and will protect our journalists. Tapusin na natin ang panahon ng karahasan at takot. Huwag nating pabayaan na pati ang paglalathala ng katotohanan ay pigilan ng isang walang pusong pamumuno [Let’s end the violence and fear. Let us not allow that the publication of truth will be curtailed by an administration without a heart],” Ilagan said.