Opinions

Rape joke*

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte again earned the ire of not a few people when he joked about rape in front of soldiers about to be deployed to Marawi City to fight the Maute group. 

Even Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President Bill Clinton and former State Secretary Hillary Clinton, said on her Twitter account that the joke was not funny after sharing a tweet by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker on the story. 

Chelsea said it was important to point that out and that rape was never a joke. 

In a speech to troops, Duterte said he would take responsibility for the consequences of martial law that he declared in Mindanao. The President then jested that if they committed rape three times, he would take the blame. 

An association of defenders of women’s rights known as Tanggol Bayi also condemned the joke, saying rape is a heinous crime. 

It shared the suffering of Bayol Maguiales, a woman who was supposedly raped by a soldier during martial law of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. 

Maguiales asked the soldier if she could visit her father who was locked up in a mosque and she was allowed to do so. It was already dark on her way home when the soldier reportedly raped her. 

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte was exaggerating when he described crimes that soldiers might commit during martial law, to drive home his point that he was taking full responsibility for their actions. 

However, his joke could have aggravated the fears of some people on martial law, and the possible military abuses that could occur with its imposition. 

Last year, many people found the President at the height of insensitivity when he joked about the rape of an Australian missionary held hostage by an inmate of Davao city jail, and killed when the police stormed the prison when he was still city mayor. 

Critics said the President may find rape a laughing matter but the majority of Filipinos disagree. Respect for women and the rest of humanity is a must, especially for the leader of the land.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. 

* The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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