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Various groups of women led by the women’s rights monitor and advocate Gabriela dance at the Press Freedom memorial at the capitol grounds as part of the “1 Billion Rising” campaign yesterday. The groups lambasted President Duterte for his “order” for soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in their genitalia and his widely perceived sexist remarks about women. (photo by joey nacalaban)

Women’s group on its support for Duterte: ‘We were wrong’

“WE were wrong.”

The women’s group Gabriela in Davao City stated this even as it lashed out at President Duterte on Tuesday for his wide perceived misogynistic remarks and an “order” to shoot female communist rebels in their genitalia.

Duterte said soldiers should not kill female members of the New Peoples’ Army but shoot their private parts to render them useless.

The same group campaigned for Duterte when he ran for President in 2016, and helped craft the “Women Agenda” for his platform of governance, and continued to support him as  President in the last 19 months.

“Despite his expletives, cussing and misogynistic remarks, we supported him, hoping that he, indeed, would bring genuine change for the marginalized communities. We were wrong,” reads part of the statement released by Gabriela in Southern Mindanao. It was signed by the group’s chairperson, Dr. Jean Lindo, chair emeritus Lyda Canson, and secretary-general May Ann Sapar.

In Malacanang this Feb. 7, Duterte told an audience of 217 alleged NPA surrenderers flown in from eastern Mindanao, that soldiers should get even with the NPA and if there are women fighters, “pusila sa b****g.”

Part of the Gabriela statement reads: “His sexualization of women in counter-insurgency campaign is not only directed to the female revolutionaries but to all women.”

It defined “sexualization”  in the “context that the President suggested for the NPA amazons to be subject to genital mutilation rather than to killing so that when their genitals are gone they are inutile or of no more use.”

The group said the President’s statements “reflect a very disturbing deep-seated misogyny and sexism” and “contradict the Women Development Code he signed in 1997.”

The group expressed outrage and disappointment over Duterte’s “anti-women remarks and his utter disrespect for women.”

It also called on the President “not to imitate Ampatuan and his private army when they did genital mutilation aside from killing the women on November 23, 2009.”

“How much more terrorism do you want women to be subjected to?” the group asked as it called on all women to “make this their call in all their campaigns for equality and against discrimination and gender-related violence.”

On Sunday, Gabriela described the President as “macho fascist” and the “epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled into one” for  “encouraging violence against women.”

Gabriela representative Emmi de Jesus said Duterte’s statement “openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the goverment right  now.”

The President is “dangerously pushing” the Armed Forces to “commit more bloody human rights violations and grave abuses of international humanitarian law, and takes state terrorism against women and the people to a whole new level,” she said.

Responding to a query on the criticisms on the President’s “shoot their vagina” remarks, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, “We should already know the President.”

Roque said he has repeatedly said, “Do not take the President literally but take him seriously.”

“The message of the President, since there is no more chance for peace talks because the CPP-NPA are traitors, expect that we are at war with the NPA and we will win. That is the message of the President,” Roque said.

“Do not take literally what he said because if the President is against the welfare of the women, he would not have ordered the ban on the deployment of our fellow Filipinos in Kuwait because most of the victims in Kuwait are women. His order to ban, even if we lose earnings, that is one proof that the President considers not only the interest of the Filipinos but also our women. They should not be violated, abused, oppressed but respected,” Roque added. (carolyn o. arguillas of mindanews)


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