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Palace downplays Duterte’s latest rape joke


By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang downplayed President Duterte’s recent rape joke, saying people should not put too much weight on the President’s jests.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Malacañang on April 20, 2018. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Duterte in his speech in Mandaue City, Cebu Thursday night that rape cases are high in Davao because there are a lot of beautiful women there.

In his press briefing, Roque was mum on the President’s latest rape joke but said Duterte has trust on women to even appoint them to government posts.

“Well I do not know. I cannot really comment on that,” Roque said Friday.

“But what the President has done recently is he has appointed yet another woman to the point of Chief Justice. This comes after his previous appointments which were mostly women, including the Department of Tourism Secretary [Berna] Romulo and Acting Secretary for the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) who is also a woman, Gee Orogo.

According to the Palace official, Duterte is not justifying that women are being raped because they are beautiful.

“I don’t think we should give too much weight on what the President says by way of a joke,” Roque said.

Roque also said there is an obvious difference on how people across the country take jokes.

“Some may not approve but you know I can tell you this already: there’s a difference between sense of humor in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” he said.

“And from what I have seen myself, although I’m from Luzon, people in the south don’t think, particularly in Cebu and the Visayas, they don’t really take things as seriously as people in Luzon,” he added.

However, Roque explained having different sense of humor does not mean that people in the south are fine with rape jokes.

“They’re not okay with rape jokes but let’s just say that perhaps the standard of what is offensive and what is not offensive is more liberal in the south,” he said.

Roque, meanwhile, also said Duterte’s standards are not low and the President knows to what extent he can joke about sensitive issues like rape.

“I think the President is mature enough to know to what extent he can go, and he thinks this is not putting it too low,” he said.

Duterte has been under fire for his remarks against women, including rape jokes. He once joked of congratulating a rapist who would carry out the crime on an international pageant winner.

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