WOMEN's and progressive groups on Thursday, May 17, were quick to criticize President Rodrigo Duterte over his remarks described as "anti-women."
Malacañang, however, defended the President, saying his latest remarks about his preferences for the next Ombudsman and Chief Justice were not meant to discriminate women.
Duterte on Wednesday, May 16, revealed that he does not want a woman to head the Office of the Ombudsman, after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales retires in July.
"The JBC will nominate (the next Ombudsman). But I will choose, and I want a person who is admired by people because of his integrity. Of course, it could not be a politician, especially not a woman," the President had said.
On Tuesday, the President was also quoted as saying that he would not appoint a politician nor a woman as the next Chief Justice to replace Maria Lourdes Sereno whose appointment was invalidated by the Supreme Court when the court granted the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the President did not mean to rule out the possibility of appointing a woman.
Asked if the President thinks women are not competent to serve the government, the Palace official said: "No, perhaps. I don't think so."
Roque, however, said he also has to clarify Duterte's pronouncement.
"My understanding is that he (Duterte) will not ask Conchita Morales as to who should be the next Ombudsman. That's my appreciation yesterday. It had nothing to do with the qualifications he wants (for Morales's replacement). That's my understanding," Duterte's mouthpiece said.
"I will clarify if the President really said that. But as far as I know, there's no discrimination against women. Anyone can be appointed in the government," he added.
Morales, the incumbent Ombudsman appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III, is set to reitre on July 26.
Duterte's remark earned the ire of advocacy group Every Woman, which issued a statement saying the remark implied that "women cannot really have political integrity nor brilliance."
Gabriela Partylist, for its part, said the President's "statement that the next Chief Justice is not a woman speaks boldly of his sick, macabre misogyny."
"It seems the quo warranto coup against former Chief Justice Sereno is not enough. He is yet again rewriting the laws and the Constitution to effectively bar a woman from the Chief Magistrate post," the group added. (With Keith A. Calayag/SunStar Philippines)