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Duterte’s misuse of power–the power of the Office of the President

“No President–that means all presidents, including Mr. Duterte–should abuse power by placing women on the spot to agree or disagree to a sexual favor.  Florin Hilbay

Gabriela in a statement says the kiss was a “disgusting theatrics of a misogynist President who feels entitled to demean, humiliate or disrespect women according to his whim.” What is the point of laws to protect women like the magna carta for women, laws on anti-violence against women and their children if the men in power exhibit chauvinistic, misogynistic and sexist privilege? The latest “display of naked power in South Korea by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte – soliciting a kiss as he handed out, of all things, a book on alleged corruption among Catholic clergy – was bereft of any sane motivation.”

We must call out  this crude behavior or else Duterte’s behavior becomes normative. It becomes accepted as normal behavior or conduct for men , and especially those in power . Let’s not blame the woman here in the way she acted.  There is an imbalance of power. Senator Risa Hontiveras says “It was not a meeting of two consenting individuals on equal terms. Uneven power relations were clearly at play.” Between the woman and the president, who  is in power? Beth Angsioco, explains:

Duterte is supposed to be the President. He is supposed to act like one. He is the most powerful person in our country. “The woman is an Overseas Filipino Worker, married to a Korean. Beth adds “There exists a great imbalance of power between the two by virtue of sex and position.”

Nagmano ang babae kay Duts, this is an acknowledgment of the power differential.

The woman and her companion were seen leaving the stage but the President called her back and pointed to his lips , asking for a kiss. The crowd, went on frenzy obviously thrilled, and egging the woman to take the bait. The president even knew the woman is married. Beth added, “He was in full control of the situation, the woman was not.”

“He is the PRESIDENT. This alone instantly overwhelms people.

In ordinary situations, it’s not easy to say NO to a superior whether it’s a boss, teacher, even a husband. Equality between the sexes remains elusive. The power relation is aggravated by virtue of positions held.”

“How should the woman react? Even Sec. Romulo-Puyat & VP Leni were victimized by Duterte’s misogyny despite their being powerful women. The woman in question now is an ordinary OFW. Why blame her?

FULL BLAME IS ON THE PRESIDENT. He was in control. He played POWER OVER the woman.”

READ: 30 examples of Duterte’s sexist remarks #BabaeAko

Inday Varona adds  that it would be very difficult to stand your ground with a man whose lips are pursed already. This is  “a man known for unleashing torrents of abuse at those who displease him — and on the other, a seemingly titillated audience.

We can fantasize about fending off the boor and stomping off but that is way easier said than done.

One of the things that struck me about the #MeToo campaign was how so many women feared being seen as killjoys, even malicious, how many feared being blamed for calling out abuse or even just showing it was not welcome.

Easy to be also disgusted by the audience. But one’s relationship w power is a complex issue. Sometimes what we see as enabling behavior can be, to others, a survival mechanism to preempt abuse. Doesn’t excuse the abuse.”

We must remember that Duterte’s latest tirade against women is part of an abusive pattern. He uses women as a diversionary tactic, when he faces issues like extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, high prices and the like.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said, “It was really a shock but more than that is the message that conveys to women, grabe, it is as if he can do anything to women being the President he should be mindful of his position.” The President’s actions will filter down to the law enforcers, government agencies, and employees.

What a bad example to our youth, the future leaders of our country. Using the hashtag #BabaeAko, we will continue to use social media to fight President Rodrigo Duterte’s sexist and misogynistic behavior. And calling out goes beyond Duterte and this administration.

fight duterte misogyny

Image of the President via Florin Hilbay


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BlogWatch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for their story on “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also received the same award.

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