PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, August 30, attributed the high number of rape cases in his hometown, Davao City, to the "many beautiful women" there.
"Ingon sila nga daghang rape ang Davao. Basta daghang gwapa, daghang rape gyud na," Duterte said at the celebration of Mandaue City's 49th Charter Day, drawing laughter from the crowd.
(They said that Davao has many rape cases. For as long as there are many beautiful women, there are plenty of rape cases as well.)
Davao City had the highest number of rape cases in the second quarter of 2018, based on the records from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The PNP recorded 42 rape cases in Davao City from April to June, followed by Quezon City with 41, Manila with 32, Cagayan de Oro with 24, and Zamboanga City with 21.
In a statement released Friday, August 31, the Gabriela Women's party "strongly" condemned Duterte's distasteful joke about women, branding it as a "flamboyant display of misogyny, which places Filipino women at risk of rape."
This was not the first time Duterte earned the public's ire for his rape jokes.
During the 2016 election campaign, the President joked about the 1989 rape case of Australian missionary worker Jaqueline Hamil.
Duterte also quipped in July last year that he would “congratulate” those who would rape the contestants of the Miss Universe beauty pageant.
In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Chief Executive's latest rape joke should not be taken seriously.
"I don't think we should give too much weight on what the President says by way of a joke. Some may not approve but you know, I can tell you this already. There's a difference between a sense of humor in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao," Roque said.
"And from what I have seen myself, although I'm from Luzon, people in the south, particularly in Cebu and the Visayas, they don't really take things as serious as people in Luzon," he added.
Roque was also confident that people in the south are "more liberal" to identify what is offensive from what is not.
He also emphasized that the Chief Executive was "mature enough" to go beyond his limits that might offend others.
"They're not okay with rape jokes, but let's just say that perhaps there's a standard of what is offensive and what is not offensive is more liberal in the south," he said.
"I think the President is mature enough to know to what extent he can go and he thinks that it is not putting it too low," Roque added.
In their statement, Gabriela Partylist Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas reiterated that rape is a crime and that it occurs only because of the rapist mentality.
“A person who finds pleasure in the mass killings of innocent people and who finds humor in demeaning women and enabling rapists is not fit to be President.,” said Gabriela.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, in a separate statement, demanded an apology from the President.
“We demand from Rodrigo Duterte immediate retraction of his latest remark and public apology. We demand that his administration ensure immediate justice for rape victims not only in Davao but for the entire country,” she said.
Castro slammed the President for instead of answering to the issue of rape in his hometown, he resorted to “victim-blaming” and “unfunny jokes.”
“Both are unbecoming of any person, any public servant, most especially of the President.,” Castro said. (With a report from Keith A. Calayag/SunStar Philippines)