PERSONS with disabilities (PWD) groups filed on Friday at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a formal complaint against Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for his disparaging remarks against disabled persons.
In their accompanying statement, they said they were “outraged and vehemently and unequivocably condemn the disparaging comments of Mayor Rordigo Duterte regarding persons with disabilities.”
In her column on April 25, columnist Ellen Tordesillas narrated: “Regaling his audience in Kalibo, Duterte performed: ‘Iyong isa doon, classmate ko pa. Eh na-stroke, paganoon-ganoon’ [One of them was my classmate. He suffered a stroke, he moved like this] as he mimicked the half-paralyzed movement of a stroke victim.”
“Showing no mercy, he added, ‘Pakamatay ka na lang’ [Just kill yourself],” she quoted Duterte as saying.
The PWD organizations said they believe Duterte violated three laws — Republic Act 9442 of 2006 that amended RA 7277, and RA 7277 of 1992 or the ‘Magna Carta for Disabled Persons,’ and RA 6713 of 1989, the code of conduct for public officials.
The complaint was filed by Ranilo Sorongon, Liza Martinez of Philippine Alliance of Persons with Chronic Illness, and Lauro Purcil, convenor of the Philippine Coalition on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
“As a public official and employee, we find his language, actions and demeanor completely unacceptable. He has made fun of marginalized and disadvantaged sectors, comprising at least 15 percent of the population. He has done this for the sheer purpose of ‘jokes’ or ‘narratives’ to regale and entertain his campaign audiences. We deem his behavior crude and discourteous, unprofessional and discriminatory. Despite his aspirations to the highest position of the land, by no stretch of the imagination can such kind of conduct be deemed to be true to the people,” the group said in a statement.
“What kind of example does an aspiring President of the Republic set when he causes his constituency to make a mockery of sectors who struggle to rise above the oppression and inequality they experience, including those from the State itself?
By ridiculing older persons and persons with disabilities in his campaign sortie, Mayor Duterte has made his conduct a matter of public importance. By his various remarks on rape, objectification of women, and now persons with disabilities, and older persons in the guise of ‘narrative’ and humor, he has shown a pattern of impunity and oppression,” they added.
The group asked the CHR, the Department of Justice, and the Ombudsman to immediately exact accountability on Duterte.
CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said that due process will be observed and Duterte will be given time to respond.
He related that in the case of the complaint filed a few weeks ago by women’s groups against Duterte’s rape statements, the Davao mayor did submit a reply, but as it was marked ‘confidential,’ the contents are not to be announced while the complaint is still undergoing investigation.