(Note: The 11th paragraph of this story has been corrected to more accurately report the quote attributed to US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, as well as clarify that it was said in the context of the need to continue the good relations between the United States and the Philippines regardless of the result of the May 9, 2016 elections. The correction was made at the request of the US Embassy in Manila.)
Mayor’s rape remarks should not be tolerated – Goldberg
THE uproar caused by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte continued to grow as the United States joined Australia in condemning the presidential candidate for his remarks that “trivialized” the rape and killing of a missionary in 1989.
US Ambassador Philip Goldberg echoed the statement issued by Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely, who criticized Duterte for saying that he should have been the first to rape Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who worked in Davao City.
“What a pity. What came to my mind was, ‘They raped her, lined up for her.’ I was mad because she was raped? Yes. That’s one reason. But she was so beautiful. The mayor should have been first,” Duterte had said in Tagalog.
“Rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere,” Gorely posted on her Twitter account on Monday.
“I can only agree with the colleague from the Australian Embassy,” Goldberg said in an interview aired by CNN Philippines.
“Any statements by anyone, anywhere that either degrade women or trivialize issues so serious as rape or murder, are not ones that we condone,” he added.
Goldberg issued the statement despite saying in previous interviews that he will not get involved in Manila’s politics.
He pointed out that the decision on who will be the next Philippine President remains with Filipinos.
The diplomat had expressed confidence that any candidate would want to continue the Philippines’ long-standing ties with the US to sustain economic growth and strong military defense.
“Our job and my job and also the job of the people in the US is to stay out of your politics and to let the Filipino people decide who is gonna be your President,” Goldberg told The Manila Times in a previous interview.
He said “continuity tends to be greater than change in these circumstances,” referring to the “very good relationship” between the US and the Philippines. “Regardless of who’s been president of the Philippines or president of the United States, we’ve always had good relations,” Goldberg said.
On Tuesday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade followed up Gorely’s statement.
The foreign ministry was quoted by Canberra-based ABC News as describing Duterte’s remark as “highly regrettable.”
“We note there has been widespread condemnation of the comments in the Philippines, including from Philippine President Benigno Aquino 3rd,” the foreign ministry said, referring to Malacañang’s statement that Duterte “does not respect nor care for the sensitivities of the countries with whom the Philippines maintains cordial and cooperative relations.”
“Australia strongly condemns such comments that make light of rape, which is a violent crime. Rape, or any form of sexual abuse, should not be trivialized,” the ministry added.
Duterte is yet to answer Goldberg’s remarks, but he fired back at Gorely and asked the Australian government to “stay out” of Philippine politics.
“I was not insulting the Australian woman. I was derogating the act of rape. For me, it’s a slang,” the mayor told members of the press covering his political sortie in Bacolod City (Negros Occidental).
Condemned by Asian rights group
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson also blasted Duterte.
“Disgusting endorsement of sexual violence by #Philippines pres contender Duterte should be utterly condemned,” he said in his Twitter account. “Why is it every time #Duterte says something revolting, he & his supporters claim it’s a joke? Rape is not humorous!”
Robertson also questioned Duterte’s apology.
“You call that an apology? ooh, I said it in “anger” — guess since he can’t call it a joke anymore? Bogus!”
In 2015, HRW described Duterte as the “Philippines’ death squad mayor” for his tactics in dealing with crimes in Davao, with more than 1,000 people being killed.
On Tuesday, Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said it was hard to tell if the mayor’s statements would change his standing.
“The people who are affected [by his rape jokes]are the ones who do not support Duterte,” he added.
Holmes conceded that Duterte’s remarks could “potentially” scare off some voters. Senator Grace Poe expressed belief that Duterte’s distasteful remarks will not ruin the relationship between the Philippines and Australia.
She noted that the disrespectful comment was made by just one man, and does not reflect the views of majority of Filipinos.
Poe, however, expressed concern that the issue could put the Philippines in a bad light especially after it was picked up by international media.
“I hope we will not go back to a situation where our women are being belittled and neglected,” she said.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND AFP