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All about accountability

A lot has been said and written, even a poem romanticizing rape, on the sexual assault that allegedly happened at the Iligan National Writers Workshop a few weeks ago.

Rape is an abominable crime. The victim, in our damaged society, often suffer blame for “encouraging” the act as well as the excruciating stigma of being dubbed “damaged goods.”

That a victim bravely made public such an assault took a lot of courage, lending great credence to her claim. Such fact must not be perfunctorily dismissed, as is clearly the case immediately following the complainant’s publication of her ordeal.

Instead of assuring it will investigate and promising justice if the complaint is found to be true, it appears that the workshop organizers and their defenders took to professing their personal literary and even moral credentials in a vain attempt to shield themselves from accountability for an incident that should never have happened under their watch. They likewise politicized the issue, hinting that this is less about sexual assault but more an attack on their political principal widely known for misogynist acts and statements.

What the organizers cannot deny, however, is that a workshop fellow raised a complaint about sexual assault, with a workshop panelist as the perpetrator, and with the incident happening right at the official residence of the workshop fellows and panelists. That the organizers refused or failed to immediately start a formal investigation or to formally inform the police of the incident betray a terrible lack of awareness and also an inability or refusal to make the workshop a safe space for participants.

Worse, it is deplorable to see respected authors and poets clearly rushing to protect the accused sexual predator, totally ignoring the power dynamics between speakers and mentors and their younger fellows. After the accused admitted to taking advantage of a situation, we did not see from the workshop organizers’ a condemnation of his predatory act and an admission of their failure to prevent such from happening. If only for the latter, they must be held accountable.

Their even more preposterous argument would have us believe that the accused and the organizers must not be judged on the case at hand but on their past good deeds, on a very subjective scale benefitting a small group of people. That latter position, taken to its logical conclusion, would forgive administrators of institutions providing charitable aid to vulnerable sectors for abuses heaped on the very people they claim to serve. That stand reflects the sycophantic nature of our politics and many of our institutions, where the bottomline is patronage and largesse dispensed and received.

Such unfortunate sense of entitlement must not be allowed to infect arts and culture.

Again, accountability, akin to criticism, is sacrosanct to people. It must be as well to artists who have great power over how society thinks and acts. The reported sexual assault in Iligan must be investigated and, if found true, punished, not excused. #

Steering Committee
Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity
Aug. 10, 2019

‘Shooting of female guerrilla fighter in vagina proves Duterte’s anti-women remarks not joke, sarcasm’

“The military proves that Duterte’s ‘shoot the vagina’ remark is a brutal war policy.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Not too long ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shooting of female armed guerrilla fighters in their vaginas to render them “useless.” He later defended his remark – one of the many he issued against women – as mere sarcasm.

Not anymore.

Last week, Gabriela Women’s Party deplored the desecration of the remains of an alleged New People’s Army female fighter Cindy Tirado, whose remains were found to be desecrated as her genitals appeared to be shattered by a bullet.

Tirado was among those killed in an alleged military operation led by the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on April 15 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Apart from her genitals being shot, the women’s group also noted that her arms were fractured, indicating possible torture.

Tirado’s grieving mother Emma, in an interview with a national daily, noted that her daughter was most probably captured alive and tortured before she was killed.

Rape incidents on the rise

Apart from the “shoot in the vagina” remark, Duterte has not been sitting well among many women’s group due to what they said are anti-women pronouncements.

He has repeatedly “joked” at the expense of women or on the issue of rape.

Such pronouncements, critics said, contribute to the poor regards for women and their rights in the country.

In a report earlier this year, the Center for Women’s Resources said there were 2,962 cases of rape or about 20 incidents per day from January to May 2018 alone.

Among the cities with the highest number of rape incidents in 2018 were Quezon City, Manila, and Davao.

There are also 59 cops implicated in the cases of violence against women from July 2016 to December 2018, the CWR report added.

Independent probe sought

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party called for an independent probe, saying that this constitutes a war crime and violation of international humanitarian law, adding that those involved must be probed over its apparent excessive use of force and possible sexual violence.

The military, the group added, “proves that Duterte’s ‘shoot the vagina’ remark is a brutal war policy.” #

‘Rape is part of culture’


“[For those] working as slaves [overseas], rape [comes with] the territory. Kasali sa kultura (It’s part of the culture).”–President Rodrigo Duterte (Masbate City/11 January 2019)

‘Disgusting’ Duterte scored for rape story

Rodrigo Duterte’s narration of his molestation of a house help in his high school days earned more disgust from a women’s group who said the President is a “maniac”.

“It is deeply disturbing even for Duterte to brag about attempting to rape a maid when he was a minor,” women’s group Gabriela said in a statement Sunday.

“This statement about his crime as a young man is only the latest in his countless statements bragging about flagrantly committing crimes against women and the people, from goading soldiers to rape women in Marawi to ordering the bombing and hamletting of lumad communities and publicly ordering extrajudicial killings in the name of the war on drugs,” Gabriela said.

In a speech in Kidapawan City Saturday, Duterte said he twice inserted his finger inside their maid’s panties before going back to his room to masturbate when he was a high school freshman at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Duterte said he told the priest about the incident in a Sacrament of Confession.

“The maniac in Malacañan has proven that he had no qualms violating the rights of women, people of lower stature and viewed them as his own personal toy,” Gabriela said in its reaction.

“This latest confession has brought shame not only on himself but on the entire nation that trusted him to lead judiciously and righteously. He has proven himself unworthy of his position and should resign,” the group added.

Malacañan, as usual, said reports have yet again taken Duterte’s narration out of context, saying the story was a “laughable made-up anecdote to dramatize the fact of sexual abuse that was inflicted on him and his fellow students when they were in high school.”

Duterte earlier identified American Jesuit Fr. Paul Falvey, S.J. as the school administrator who molested him and several other Ateneo de Davao University students.

But while Duterte has repeatedly upset Filipinos with his scandalous language and remarks in the past, his latest speech shocked even more.

Activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB said she initially wanted to ignore the President’s “latest atrocious action on an official event” but she was so disgusted with Duterte’s “graphic and provocatively detailed pornographic narration of his molesting a kasambahay (house help) in the context of the Sacrament of Confession, she felt she should issue a statement of indignation and disgust.

“I thought before he was just like (US President Donald) Trump. He is certainly worse,” Mananzan said.

Mananzan also scored among those in Duterte’s audience who can be heard on the video of the speech to have laughed at the President’s remark.

“What is even more disgusting is, as usual, his audience who looked like educated people laughed at his ‘joke’,” she fumed.

“How could people have descended so low in such a short time? Was there no one there with the decency and courage to get up and leave?—because I think that is what should be done on such an occasion,” Mananzan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte has rapist mentality, women groups say

“Misogynist” Rodrigo Duterte fuels the rape mindset in country, women’s rights groups said in response to yet another controversial rape statement by the President.

Accusing him of having a “rapist mentality,” the group blasted Duterte’s statement that many rape attacks are happening in Davao because there are many beautiful women in the city.

“Ingon sila nga daghang rape ang Davao. Basta daghang gwapa, daghang rape gyud na,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City Thursday, August 30. (They said there are many rape cases in Davao. As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases.)

“Instead of seriously addressing the problem, the misogynist Duterte has added insult to the scars of rape survivors,” #BabaeAko said in a statement Friday.

The group said Duterte’s boast of his home city, Davao, being among the safest in the Philippines has been demolished by Philippine National Police (PNP) statistics that show it has the highest rape rate nationwide.

With 42 reported cases of rape in the second quarter of 2018, the PNP said Davao City has the highest number in the country during the period.

#BabaeAko said that more than his prohibition while still Davao mayor of women wearing shorts in public, Duterte’s anti-rape strategy failed because he is disrespectful of women and only sees them as mere sexual objects.

‘Joke only’

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque tried to downplay the widespread backlash against Duterte’s controversial remark, saying people should not give too much weight to the President’s “joke”.

“Let’s just say there are standards of what is offensive and what is not offensive. It’s more liberal in the South,” Roque said in a press briefing in Malacañan Friday.

#BababeAko said it was not the first time the President has encouraged rapists and put the blame on women, however.

“In his presidential campaign, he grouched that as mayor, he should have been first to rape a foreign missionary. He slapped down his daughter, Sara, current mayor of Davao, calling her a ‘drama queen’ when she confessed to an experience of sexual assault. He has joked of pardons for soldiers who rape. He has offered Filipino “virgins” to filthy foreigners with purchasing power,” the group recalled.

#BabaeAko said the country does not deserve him “who willfully breaks our laws and encourages others to do the same, because his notion of power stops at coercive force.”

‘Spokesperson and defender’

Gabriela Women’s Party echoed #BabaeAko’s condemnation, saying Duterte sent yet again a very dangerous and distorted message in his latest rape remark

“He (Duterte) toys with Davao pride and misogyny to gloss over a very important detail — that women in his hometown Davao City suffered the most number of rape cases in the country,” GWP said.

President Duterte is proud to have rolled back whatever gains and legal mechanisms that have been instituted for women’s rights in Davao City, the group said.

“Is Pres. Duterte already the self-proclaimed spokesperson and defender of rape pertrators in Davao?” GWP Representative Emmi de Jesus for her part asked.

“We strongly condemn this latest flamboyant display of misogyny, which places more Filipino women at risk of rape. 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,” GWP added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Gabriela condemns govt’s removal of comfort woman statue

Women’s group Gabriela strongly condemned the removal of the comfort woman statue along Roxas Boulevard in Manila Friday, saying the move is a desecration of Filipino women’s dignity.

Blaming Japan and the Rodrigo Duterte government for the statue’s removal, the group said the move casts a foul insult on hundreds of victims of sex slavery during the Japanese Imperial Army’s occupation of the Philippines in World War II.

Despite opposition from women’s rights advocates, historians and other sectors, “Japan once again succeeded in imposing its revisionist take on WW II on puppet regimes like the Duterte regime,” Gabriela in a statement said.

(Photo by Atty. Dennis Gorecho)

Groups and personalities are still trying to find out who ordered the removal, seeking explanations from both the Department of Public Works and Highways and the City Government of Manila.

Lawyer Dennis Gorecho, a volunteer during the statue’s erection and unveiling near Manila Bay’s breakwater, said the statue was installed with the blessings of the National Historical Institute and should be considered a historical landmark and monument protected under Republic Act No. 10066, otherwise known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

The law protects the statue against prohibited acts such as intentional destruction, demolition, mutilation, damage, modification, and alteration, Gorecho explained.

Gorecho added construction and real estate development in any national shrine, monument, landmark and other historic edifices and structures, declared, classified, and marked by the National Historical Institute as such, are prohibited without the prior written permission from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

This includes the designated security or buffer zone, extending five meters from the visible perimeter of the monument or site.

An image posted on Gorecho’s Facebook account however showed a backhoe machine operating near the statue. In the lower part of the image, the statue could no longer be seen.

(Image from Atty Dennis Gorecho’s Facebook page)

Lila Pilipina, the organization of women sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army, Tulay Foundation, a group whose members belong to Manila’s Chinese-Filipino community victimized by Japanese atrocities during the war, and other groups and individuals spearheaded the construction and installation of the statue.

It was unveiled last December 8 with NHCP executive director Ludovico Badoy in attendance, along with Gabriela, and others groups and personalities.

Similar “comfort women” statues were earlier erected in Korea, Australia, Canada, Germany, San Francisco and New Jersey, USA.

“The comfort woman statue supposedly serves as a reminder to future generations of Japan’s atrocities and abuses against Filipino women during the Second World War, and women’s historical victimization in times of wars of aggression,” Gabriela said.

Japan, however vigorously protested the erection of the statue with the Duterte government, threatening diplomatic and economic sanctions.

Japan has refused to acknowledge it sanctioned the sexual enslavement of hundreds of thousands of women during its rampage across the region during the war.

Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda reportedly expressed Tokyo’s disappointment over the erection of the statue along Roxas Boulevard during her courtesy call on Duterte last January 16 in Malacañan.

Gabriela blamed the Duterte government for caving in to Japan.

“[I]t is highly despicable that the Duterte government, like a thief in the night, removed the comfort woman statue in Manila. What has been left of the marker will be a stark reminder of how the Duterte regime pimped the dignity of women and the Filipino nation in exchange for multi-billion Japanese loans and technical assistance,” Gabriela said.

Despite the statue’s removal, Gabriela said it will vigorously pursue efforts to expose Japan’s sex slavery in the country and other parts of the globe.

“Women will persevere in highlighting the horrors of Japanese occupation, no matter how Japan and its puppets try to cover it,” Gabriela said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva / Photos by Atty. Dennis Gorecho)