As the public still reels from the uproar over Duterte’s recent confession on molesting their female household worker, the president just made another controversial statement rationalizing rape as a cultural practice and as a matter of “territory.”
In his speech during an event organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Wednesday, Duterte said, “ilang Filipina abroad, alam ninyo, na pag nanduon ay worker, paid, or working as a slave, rape is part of territory. Kasali sa kultura.”
Various groups representing women and the migrants’ sector expressed condemnation over the president’s latest rape remark. Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said, “instead of ensuring justice for all the rape victims and providing full protection to all our women OFWs, you gave us a remark that virtually justifies the commission of heinous crimes against them.” Concepcion was recently elected as Migrante International’s chairperson and has long been a migrants’ rights leader among Filipino communities in the US. “Kailanman, hindi namin matatanggap ang sinasabi mong kapalaran namin na halayin at alipinin sa ibang bayan,” she added.
President Duterte in his same speech during the DTI event described OFW families as dysfunctional. “Pag wala ang nanay, nandiyan ang tatay, the eldest daughter becomes the surrogate mother. Pati anak niya. Kasi wala ang asawa. Now, pag ang tatay at ang nanay pumunta, magtrabaho sa middle east, sila ay iiwan sa lolo at lola,”Duterte stated.
When asked about Duterte’s remark on OFW families, Migrante Philippines Chairperson Arman Hernando was highly emotional as he took account of his elder sister and other female relatives working overseas. He retorted, “Mr. Duterte, it is your government that sent our mothers and sisters abroad to be enslaved through your labor export program.”
In 2016 alone, Migrante International was able to document 1,549 cases of maltreatment and 308 cases of rape and sexual abuse among OFWs in Kuwait.
“Your criminal neglect is distressing enough for us to condemn your inhuman regime. Yet again, this latest remark of yours deserves greater condemnation. Your slave society thinking as reflected in your remark has put them in greater danger because it aggrandizes the abuses inflicted by their foreign employers,” Hernando added.
Pinky Alamo of Samahan ng mga Domestic Helpers sa Gitnang Silangan (SANDIGAN) reiterated their group’s demand on the government to assume full responsibility in working for the attainment of justice for all OFW victims of abuse and maltreatment. Alamo described Duterte’s speech as “filthy and deplorable.” A victim of attempted rape herself, Pinky Alamo said, “hearing Duterte’s obscene remarks on women is like reliving over and over again all the traumatic experiences we went through from our abusive employers. We call on Duterte to stop the abuse!”
Wary of Panelo’s usual joke-centric excuse, Migrante International challenged the Duterte government to “repudiate this abhorrent statement” and “apologize to our hardworking women migrant workers.” The group likewise called on women OFWs to collectively assert their rights and welfare “by fighting the regime’s labour export program and strengthening the struggle to uproot the causes of forced migration in the face of Duterte’s inutile approach to their plight and sufferings.”