Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte orders soldiers to shoot women rebels in vagina, draws ire of human rights groups

Human Rights Watch said Duterte's remark, uttered last week before supposedly surrendered communist rebels, is the latest of Duterte's 'series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statement

FP Staff February 13, 2018 15:43:13 IST
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte orders soldiers to shoot women rebels in vagina, draws ire of human rights groups

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte ordered his soldiers to shoot women rebels in the vagina because that would render them "useless", according to several media reports.

"Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,” he said adding, "If there is no vagina, it would be useless," Vice News quoted him as saying.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte orders soldiers to shoot women rebels in vagina draws ire of human rights groups

File image of Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte. AP

Duterte made these remarks while addressing a group of former communist soldiers in Malacañang.

Later, an official transcript of the president's address omitted the word and replaced it with simply a dash, but local reports said he repeatedly mentioned the word in his speech.

Another report in The Guardian said he repeatedly used the Visayan word for vagina, bisong throughout the speech, drawing much laughter from his audience.

Duterte's remarks have drawn widespread criticism from international mediapolitical opponents, and human rights groups.

Karapatan, a left-wing rights group, said on Tuesday that Duterte "has distinguished himself as a frothing-in-the-mouth fascist who incites the worst violations of international humanitarian law."

Human Rights Watch said Duterte's remark, uttered last week before supposedly surrendered communist rebels, is the latest of Duterte's "series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements he has made about women" that encourages state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict, Associated Press reported.

"Duterte's latest nasty remark openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further presented himself as the epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled in one,” a statement from Gabriela Women's Party, said, reported.

The crude statement, however, is nothing new for the controversial president. Duterte previously made news after "joking" about the rape of a kidnapped Australian woman, lamenting that as the mayor of Davao (where the incident occurred) he was not the first to rape the victim.

The Guardian report quoted a 2016 campaign speech when he spoke of the incident: "Was I mad because of the rape? Yes, that’s one. But, she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste."

In a speech to Filipino diplomats at his home town in July 2016, Duterte was expressing his disapproval of sexual crimes against children, but he ended up joking about raping beauty pageant winners.

"What I don't like are kids (being raped.) You can mess with, maybe Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know you are going to die," Al Jazeera quoted him as saying.

His office has defended the president's off-colour 'jokes' by saying that Filipinos get his jokes and feminists usually overreact.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella has defended Duterte’s 'rape jokes'. He said: "There are those who tend to zero in on certain details, but as far as the public is concerned, and they are the ones who really approve of him, they find the president is somebody who understands them, who has their common interests, their common good, at heart," reported.

Duterte has also in the past 'joked' to soldiers that he would grant them immunity for abuses under martial law, if they raped only three women.

“If you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, just do your job I will take care of the rest,” Duterte said. "If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me," The Guardian reported,

Duterte, who has overseen the bloody anti-drug crackdown since taking power in 2016, is currently facing preliminary examination by an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor.

In September 2017, he taunted the head of a Commission on Human Rights (CHR), by calling him a paedophile, simply because he expressed concern on the large number of teenagers being killed in Duterte's bloody 'drug war.'

"Why is this guy so pre... suffocated with the issue of young people, especially boys? Are you a paedophile?" Duterte asked, referring to CHR head Chito Gascon. “Why are you smitten with teenagers? Are you? I‘m having my doubts. Are you gay or a paedophile?" he asked.

The Philippine president came to power in 2016 promising a ruthless war on drugs, and at times boasted of overseeing a so-called "death squads" behind the killings of more than a thousand petty criminals and his political opponents when he was mayor of the southern city of Davao for two decades.

Since his election as president, he has publicly called on police to "shoot-to-kill" suspects who resist arrest, and vowed to protect law officers from prosecution, maintaining the anti-crime operations are tough but legitimate.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the European Union have all criticised the controversial leader for his bombastic statements appearing to support such killings. Here is a selection of Duterte's comments on the drug war:

View to kill

"When I become president, I'll order the police and the military to find these people and kill them."

Duterte, as a presidential candidate, said on 16 March, 2016, that he would eradicate drugs in the Philippines by killing so many dealers it would cause a boom for funeral businesses.

Rough justice

"If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

Hours after being sworn in as Philippine president, Duterte went to a Manila slum and urged residents to kill drug-addled neighbours on 30 June, 2016.

Slaughter rules

"This campaign (of) shoot-to-kill will remain until the last day of my term. I don't care about human rights, believe me."

An unapologetic Duterte vows no let up as the death toll from his drug war neared 1,000 on 6 August, 2016.

"I'd be happy to slaughter them."

Duterte estimated on 30 September, 2016 that there were three million drug addicts in the Philippines, added that he would like them all dead. A year later, he said the figure had grown to four million despite his crackdown.

Leading by example?

"I used to do it (kill) personally just to show to the guys that if I can do it, so can you."

On 12 December, 2016, Duterte boasted that he had murdered suspects when he was mayor of the southern city of Davao.

"If you commit corruption, whoever you are, I will have you flown by helicopter to Manila and I will toss you out. I have done it before, why would not I do it again?"

Duterte alluded to a past crime in explaining to typhoon survivors how he will take drastic measures against drugs and graft on 27 December, 2016.

Sorry? Not sorry

"You want to scare me by threatening to have me thrown in prison? International Criminal Court? Bull#%^&."

On 28 November, 2016, Duterte bristled at ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's stark warning that any person who incites "mass violence" in the Philippines was "potentially liable to prosecution" at the world court.

"I don't give a damn about being prosecuted in the ICC. Go ahead. It would be my pleasure to go to prison for my country. It would be a distinct honour for me, even if they don't make me a hero, to die for my country."

But the president acknowledged that he has a "bad mouth" and that he's not a statesman. However, he added: "The problem here is that I won" the election.

With inputs from agencies

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