DAVAO CITY—The Commission on Human Rights said Wednesday that President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte violated the Magna Carta of Women with his infamous remark that he should have been first to have sex with an attractive Australian missionary who was raped and killed in a prison riot in 1989.
“The CHR, in the dispositive part of the resolution found the words and actions of Mayor Duterte to be discriminatory of women that is enjoined by the Magna Carta of Women,” the CHR said in a statement.
In an April 22 letter by Karen Gomez-Dumpit, commissioner for women and gender concerns, Duterte was informed that a complaint had been filed against him over the remark.
Duterte, however, ignored the request from the CHR to comment on the complaint.
Since it doesn’t have policing powers, CHR said the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Interior and Local Government would have to consider appropriate measures based on its findings.
“The CHR has the sacred constitutional duty to protect human rights and to call out persons when these rights are violated no matter what their position in society may be,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said in a statement.
“The commission believes that this mandate does not exculpate Mayor Duterte from acts committed or words uttered in the course of the electoral campaign when it involves breaches to fundamental rights, in this case, the prohibition of gender-based discrimination and violence,” he added.
Women’s rights groups who filed a complaint last month said Duterte’s actions placed “in peril the future of many children and young women who are potential victims of violence against women.”
“What protection and redress would they expect in a society where men tolerate such a violation?” the complaint letter read.
Those who signed the complaint were representatives from Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, World March of Women-Pilipinas, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), WomanHealth Philippines, Kasarian-Kalayaan, Sagip-Ilog Pilipinas, Sentro ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas, Labor Education and Research Network, and Pilipina-Ang Kilusan ng Kababaihang Pilipino.
The Palace on Wednesday supported the CHR decision and said the commission did its duty in fulfilling its mandate.
“In adopting the Resolution, the CHR, as an independent and constitutionally created body, has done its duty in fulfilling its mandate and as an advocate of women’s rights,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a statement..
“How the incoming President will address matters pertaining to women’s rights and dignity during his watch will certainly be of paramount interest to the citizenry,” said Coloma.
“Unlike during the campaign, when he shrugged off criticisms of such remarks, as president he would be expected to demonstrate strong and faithful adherence to the principles enshrined in the Magna Carta for Women and to all the laws of the land,” Coloma also said.
Duterte, who campaigned on his success at suppressing crime in Davao City, may find it much harder to impose his anti-crime measures across the country, not least because Davao was an extreme case. By the 1980s, shootings were a daily occurrence, especially in areas where army-backed militias battled police and communist guerrillas. Robberies and kidnappings were rampant.
“On average, six to seven people would be found dead each day, often these would be members of the police and the military,” incoming police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who was a junior officer in Davao in the late 1980s, said in an interview. “We were living in fear, not knowing when they would strike when you leave the house or if they will attack you in the comfort of your home.”
At a briefing this month, Duterte said he wants to implement the kind of policies he used in Davao—such as curfews for minors and bans on public drinking and late-night karaoke sessions—on a nationwide scale to ensure peace and order. To make good on his campaign promise to fight crime, he said he intends to issue shoot-to-kill orders against criminals, or to execute them by hanging.
“Robbery with homicide with rape: double the hanging,” Duterte said. “Hang first then there will be another ceremony for the second time so that the head will be completely severed from the body. I would like that.”
Davao still recorded the most murders among the Philippines’ 15-biggest cities from 2010 to 2015, according to police data. There were 1,032 murders in Davao during the period, 10 times more than Makati City.
“Doing what he did in Davao to fight crime will be very difficult to do on a national scale,’’ said Prospero de Vera, a professor of public administration at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. “In Davao, he tells criminals to get out of the city. Will he tell criminals to get out of the country?’’
While Duterte’s approach may raise concerns over human rights and police powers, for many in a country that has been held back for years by corruption and crime, his reputation and hardline rhetoric are appealing. Preliminary results show the firebrand politician won 39 percent of the vote in this month’s election, beating four rivals.
But not everyone buys the Davao success story.
“All this hype about Davao is not borne out of statistics,’’ said De Vera. “If you go to Davao, many problems of urban areas are still there, such as criminality and prostitution.’’ With Bloomberg
Duterte’s reputation as someone who got things done for Davao’s 1.4 million residents may put pressure on him as president to produce results quickly for the other 100 million Filipinos.
“Davao was not created overnight, said De Vera. “He had to deal with changing attitudes there for two decades. Unfortunately, he only has six years. It takes a lot of time to put in systemic change, and he does not have the luxury of time.’’ With Bloomberg
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