By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang has assured there is no discrimination against women working in government in a bid to downplay concerns about President Duterte’s latest anti-women remark.
The President recently claimed he was opposed to appointing a woman when asked by reporters about his choice for the next Chief Justice following the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Unang-unang, I will clarify kung sinabi talaga ng Presidente yun [First, I will clarify if the President really said that],” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“Pero sa aking pagkakaalam po wala naman pong diskriminasyon against sa kababaihan. Kahit sino po pwedeng ma-appoint sa ating gobyerno [But to my knowledge, there is no discrimination against women. Anyone can be appointed in government],” he added.
Roque made the statement amid the confusion if the President was opposed to appointing a woman Chief Justice or Ombudsman during a recent media interview.
The President recently bared the qualities of the next Chief Justice after Sereno’s appointment was nullified by the Supreme Court through a quo warranto petition.
“Gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course, it could not be a politician lalo na hindi babae [Gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya [They will nominate but I will choose. I want a person admired by the people due to integrity]. Of course, it could not be politician lalo na hindi babae [especially not a woman],” Duterte told reporters in the Palace last Wednesday.
Roque however clarified that the President appeared to be referring to the next Ombudsman during the media interview.
“Ang pagkakaintindi ko kasi ang diskusyon was on the Ombudsman so hindi ko na narinig ang tanong sa CJ [My understanding is the discussion was on the Ombudsman so I didn’t hear the question about the CJ,” he said.
“Kasi yung konteksto ng pagkakarinig ko was ‘Tatanungin ko sa Ombudsman pero hindi sa babae, hindi kay Conchita Morales. Ang pagkakaintindi ko hindi niya tatanungin si Conchita Morales kung sino ang gusto niyang pumalit [The context of what I heard was ‘I will ask the Ombudsman but not the woman, not Conchita Morales. I understand he would not ask Conchita Morales on who will replace her],” he added.
Asked why the President does not like a woman government official, Roque said he does not know.
Roque added that he has “no idea” why the President made such remark and would still clarify it with him.
Nonetheless, Roque said the President’s choices for the next Ombudsman will come from the shortlist of nominees that will be submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.
“They are 10 (nominees). May the best man or woman prevail,” he said when asked if Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will be the President’s pick as the next Ombudsman.