“Naunahan pa ako” – rape, politicians, and our culture of misogyny


Given the massive outpouring of condemnation and disgust toward Rodrigo Duterte’s “I should’ve been first” rape remark (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY8IlKL74-M), one might reasonably think that the Davao city mayor’s bid for the presidency is well and truly sunk. Efforts at damage control from him and his team have not been particularly clever: first, they asserted that the comment was meant to be regarded as a joke but changed their minds. Second, Duterte vacillated over whether or not to apologize. When he did decide, he said he was “sorry in general,” whatever that means, and put the blame on his uncontrollable mouth and temper. He next attempted to use machismo as his justification: “that’s how men talk,” and his supposed working-class, street-smart slang style: “di naman ako anak ng conyo” I’m not a child of a conyo. He then shockingly dressed down his own daughter and former Davao city mayor, Sara Duterte-Carpio, after she publicly admitted that she had been raped. His dismissive response was to call her a “drama queen.” He has told foreigners, notably the Australian Ambassador, to stay out of Philippine politics, and his latest reaction to complaints filed by women’s groups and the Commission on Human Rights was a defiant “Go to hell!”

In the face of national and international outrage, a presidential candidate who has any shame at all and any respect for the office to which he aspires would, by now, be figuring out the best face-saving exit. But not Duterte. Even when his words are at their vilest. Where from does such astounding egomaniacal confidence, or is it total indifference, spring?

A few months ago, an oath-taking ceremony of local Liberal Party officials in Laguna culminated in a lewd performance by young women dancers who wore only bras and briefs. The dancers were, reportedly, a ‘birthday gift’ from MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino to Laguna Congressman Benjie Agarao. The appreciative recipient saw nothing inappropriate in the gift, saying he was, after all, a manly man.

Commonplace casual sexism such as this is fuelled by strong misogyny. Antonio L. Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, in Laguna, also appreciated his gift. In 1993, six members of Sanchez’ entourage, one of whom was his brother and two policemen, abducted a teenage girl and her companion, both students at the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. The girl was presented to the mayor. After raping her, the mayor returned her to his men. “Salamat sa regalo ninyo” he said, “bahala na kayo diyan” (Thank you for your gift. Do what you will now). Mary Eileen Sarmenta was then raped by each of the men and murdered. Allan Gomez, her friend, was also killed. The legal files make shocking and harrowing reading.http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1993/nov1993/gr_111771_77_1993.html http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/1999/jan99/121039_45.htm

Sanchez attempted an audacious cover-up. The rape-murders were initially blamed on the victims’ fellow student and an innocent boy was subjected to trial by media. Sanchez evidently could turn to friends in high places. He allegedly paid P10 million to Joseph Estrada, then vice-president and head of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), plus P10 million to chief investigator Panfilo Lacson of PACC Task Force ‘Habagat.’ Further, mere months after the killings, just as the case was being heard in court, a movie that conveyed the mayor’s side of the story was released. Humanda ka mayor! Bahala na ang Diyos starred Kris Aquino as the rape victim.

Despite these machinations, Sanchez was convicted. He received what amounted to 360 years in prison and was permanently barred from public office. After serving eight years in jail, however, he preened before the media, claimed to be a victim of political persecution and hinted that he anticipated receiving a full pardon.

Former congressman of Zamboanga del Norte, Romeo G. Jalosjos, liked to treat himself to gifts. In 1996, over a period of several weeks in June, the congressman sexually molested an 11-year-old girl who was pimped by her stepfather. Jalosjos brushed off the child’s protests with the flesh-crawling solicitude of a true pedophile: “Daddy mo naman ako,” (Sure, I’m your daddy). The child’s pimp-stepfather received P5,000 and P10,000 each time he delivered her to the congressman. The details in the case file are stomach churning.

Jalosjos was found guilty of statutory rape and sentenced to several lifetimes worth of imprisonment. Nevertheless, he managed to orchestrate two political campaigns from behind bars, winning in the 1998 and 2001 elections, before his appeal was finally quashed by the Supreme Court in 2002. In the maximum security prison in which he was incarcerated, he was permitted to construct a tennis court, a basketball court, establish his own bakery, and build himself a little, private cottage. “I don’t see why we should insist on democratizing suffering,” he said, “that if one suffers, all of us should suffer.” In 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commuted his sentence to 16 years. In 2009, Jalosjos walked out a free man after serving just 12 years of jail time.

Duterte lays claim to a gregarious, rough-and-tumble frontier culture and a putative working-class background to justify his obscenities, his gratuitous insults, and his cruel jokes. But his boasts of vigilante-style extra-judicial killings and his ugly rape remark come from somewhere darker. Foul-mouthed messages endorsing murder and rape find their roots deep in our culture of impunity and a misogynistic mentality.

If there is any hope to be had, it lies in the tide of public denunciations. The press here and abroad have harshly criticized his remarks. Global netizens on social media, civil society groups, and government officials of every political stripe, are unified by outrage and the demand for decency and respect toward women. Will this condemnation continue up to polling day? If voters have any sense, it must.



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  1. Behind those negative comments he is still the best among the present line up of candidates the first center left leaning president who cares for the masses and not the interest of those oligarch and educated hypocrites

  2. Isipin mo yon, 27 years na ba since 1989? Siguro ay di nya makalimutan kaya pati sa rally nya ay ay nasabi (o nadulas)?. Hindi daw sya nagbibiro..which means tutuo.Ang mga sinabi nya ay galing sa puso nya.

    Tutuo pala ang kasabihan, sa bibig nahuhuli ang isda.

  3. We will still go with duterte …..outside of his brusque manner, he symbolizes the man who would finally lead us to that very evasive CHANGE that we the masses were longing for… for sometime now. His track records speak highly of what he could do with decisiveness and instantly… he speaks simple words but carry the big stick to make his policy works… we liked what he had done and no amount of destructive criticisms will come in the way of our trusts and support for the mayor… go duterte…

    • Poor brainless pinoys, High on hopes that change will come from one person alone. The person that they will elect. but has no plans on changing themselves.

  4. Corruption does not restrict itself to exchange of money. It is also found affecting the morals, ethics, empathy and behavior of people. You need to call a spade a spade. Even to the point of calling a pardon by a president evidence of moral corruption of the president. Presidential pardons should be limited to acts (although misguided) involving affairs of State. Many forms of utang na loob in the Phil are forms of moral corruption. Filipinos think because it involves utang na loob, or a family affair, it excuses their actions. Many Filipinos are morally corrupt, and most of us refuse to acknowledge this. We delude ourselves into thinking that corruption is limited to monetary exchanges. Many govt shortcomings are a result of moral corruption. We think that it is the “Christian thing to do” to look the other way when we see moral or ethical,financial corruption. Until we teach our children not to “turn the other cheek” and to stop forgiving all forms of corruption, we will continue to reap that which Christianity has sown. (Even today, if one were to look abroad, one would see that there are still countries that have difficulty prosecuting and convicting pedophiles in religious cassocks). Even a priest can be morally corrupt. They see many immoral and unethical activities and choose not to speak out. Why? Because he was raised in that environment, and no Filipino will dare call the priest a hypocrite for not speaking out.The priest is probably not even aware that he has a moral obligation to act.
    These rapists were for the most part, raised as Christians. The people who pardoned them were likewise Christians. Not enough old testament to balance out the christian lessons. First story of man in bible? Adam and Eve broke the law, were apprehended, and were punished, not forgiven. Second story? Cain broke the law, was apprehended and punished, not forgiven.There was no “pardon”.

    • taga palm springs on

      We need to put a stop on this criminality by stopping Duterte of getting the post! Miriam or Binay the other wise choices!

  5. Ay Naku-malas ng Pnas. Ang BOBOTANTES NGAYON COMES FROM ABC CLASS. Malamng si Pervert Digong maging Nex Prez