By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for asserting that his sexist and misogynistic remarks were all part of his freedom of expression.
“Women degradation is not freedom of expression,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Anong klaseng kabastusan ito? Saan nakalagay sa ating konstitusyon at mga batas na pwedeng bastusin kaming mga kababaihan at yurakan ang aming dignidad bilang mga babae? (What kind of degradation is this? Where in our Constitution and our laws state that women can be degraded and our dignity as a woman trampled on?)” Hontiveros pointed out.
Hontiveros, a member of the Senate minority bloc, reminded Duterte that freedom of expression rests in the realm of human rights.
“It is interrelated with other rights. Thus, the exercise of specific rights should also advance others and not derogate them,” Hontiveros said.
“In this context, an individual’s freedom of expression should never negate other rights, such as the right of women to be free from violence,” she stressed.
Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, said that sexist and misogynistic verbal attacks against women were not harmless.
“They function to denigrate women and further promote the growing climate of sexism and misogyny in the country,” she said.
“Anti-women remarks reinforce sexist behavior, gender stereotyping and discrimination against women that leads to violence,” she reiterated.
The senator said that when the President pronounces that it’s okay to rape women, “he promotes the rape culture, which ultimately, could lead to women getting raped.”
“And we have seen the result of President Duterte’s violent and anti-women rhetoric,” she pointed out.
“It has set into motion the killing of thousands, the left and right death threats against Catholic priests and sexist verbal attacks online and off against women opposition leaders,” she lamented.
The lawmaker, however, said that she was not surprised at all by Duterte’s latest remarks.
“What do we really expect from the country’s chief misogynist? I encourage my fellow women to continue to close ranks and stand up against all forms of violence and discrimination against women,” she stressed.
“While we celebrate our hard-fought victories, we will continue to push back. We will not allow this to become the ‘new normal’ and get used to it. We will not be complicit in this despicable culture,” Hontiveros said.