“On the president’s third year in office, nothing has become clearer than that Mr. Duterte has really nothing to show for beyond his machismo and misogyny.”
By HEATHER MARIAN AMOROSO
MANILA — Aurora, a widow, dreamed of a better future for her children. She left the country to work abroad but she was mistreated, raped and impregnated by an unknown man.
Aurora’s story is only one of the many cases of abuse experienced by women, which were cited during a press briefing organized by the women’s movement, #BabaeAko, July 14.
Speaking during the press briefing, Jean Enriquez, co-conventor of #BabaeAko and the World March of Women Philippines, said, “On the president’s third year in office, nothing has become clearer than that Mr. Duterte has really nothing to show for beyond his machismo and misogyny.”
Convenors of #BabaeAko announced that they will join the protest actions on Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on July 23. Dubbing their protest as #AMaSONA, or “Anti-Misogyny Activists sa SONA,” the convenors aim to exceed their mobilization last June 12.
#BabaeAko started out as an online campaign and has grown into a protest movement. It was included in TIME’s 25 most influential People on the internet.
For Enriquez, Duterte has not only failed Filipino women but also failed to address a long list of social, economic, and political issues.
“Duterte’s war on drugs and against ‘terror,’ have only succeeded in spawning a culture of violence and impunity that has left thousands of widowed mothers and orphaned children in economic desperation pushing some into trafficking and prostitution,” Enriquez added.
Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs has resulted in more than 20,000 deaths, according to independent reports. Majority of the victims were poor.
Enriquez said that due to Duterte’s public statements against women, which encourage rape and sex tourism, perpetrators justify their acts.
“Life and dignity are diminished and endangered in a society when its top-most leader, who should be the primary champion of life and dignity, constantly demeans and attacks some of its members,” co-convenor, Annelle Gumihid Saganay, said.
“Because he is president, Duterte’s disrespectful behavior and language towards women not only engender a culture of misogyny but also has a long-term impact on the overall perception and treatment of women in our country,” Saganay said.
Furthermore, women’s alliance, Gabriela Vice Chairperson Gert Ranjo-Libang said that women activists across the country are “targets of surveillance and harassment” by military and policy intelligence forces.
Ranjo-Libang said suspected military intelligence personnel stay in the vicinity of the office on a daily basis. Suspected state agents also take pictures and harass members of their staff. Motorcycle riding men follow vehicles coming from their office, including their office vehicles wherever it goes.
“If the government thinks that such tactics will cow us into silence, then they are very, very wrong. It has only made us very, very angry. It has fueled our resolve to fight tyranny and macho-fascism all the more,” Ranjo-Libang said.
Calls for resumption of peace talks
As President Duterte’s tirades “worsen the atmosphere of impunity in the Philippines,” women called for the resumption of peace talks.
Norma Dollaga of The Voices of Women for Justice and Peace Network said, “Peace in line with iustice is our objective as women. We, women, continue to call for the resumption of the peace talks where this table opens an avenue to find the root of poverty, the root of armed conflicts. That’s why the women are calling for the return of peace talks for this benefits many women of the nation as well as the Filipino people,” Dollaga said.