March” on January 21 in Washington, DC
idea of a Women’s March in Washington DC first arose on November 9 when
a Hawaiian grandmother posted on her Facebook page that she wanted to
protest the election of Donald Trump on the day after his inaugural. Her
simple suggestion quickly spread like a prairie fire on social media and
concrete plans for a January 21 Women’s March on Washington were laid
out with the goal of sending a message to Trump and to the world that
“women’s rights are human rights”.
more than five million people joined the “Women’s March” on January 21
which was held simultaneously in 673 cities in 81 countries around the
globe from Australia to Zimbabwe. The Women’s March in Washington D.C.
alone drew anywhere from half a million to a million participants, the
largest single day mass protest in U.S. history.
Included in the
Women’s March website’s list of participating global cities are four
cities in Muslim Indonesia (Ubud, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar and Bali).
But the website does not include the Philippines.
I asked Lilia
Villanueva, a close friend from Bacolod City, why there was no Women’s
March in the Philippines. She quickly replied: “Personally, I was too
catatonic after inauguration day to organize any protest. I wore my
Hillary cap all day and that was about all the protesting I could muster
from Bacolod. You all know that we've got our pangulo here to deal
with, especially his shitty behavior towards VP Robredo and Trump-like
witchhunt against Loida Nicolas Lewis. So yes, the Philippines should be
leading Asia in protest by women for women but finding that single- and
gender-based protests have to be carefully and skillfully crafted to
take off successfully. Dealing with a multi-faceted society with deep
cultural roots in religion-based rules on women's place and role, points
of unity to get lots of women together have to be well thought out and
multi-faceted society with deep cultural roots in religion-based
rules on women's place and role”.
Could this explain why
the Philippines was not at the forefront of the Women’s March globally
when the women’s issues of sex trafficking and prostitution, domestic
violence, rape, incest and sexual abuse abound in Philippine society?
The Philippines is
shackled by an anachronistic legal system that blatantly discriminates
against women. For example, even now in 2017, a married Filipino woman
who has “carnal relations” with another man can still be charged with
the crime of “adultery” with a penalty of imprisonment for each sexual
A married Filipino man
who has committed a similar offense can only be charged with the crime
of “concubinage” but only if it is proven that he “kept a mistress in a
conjugal dwelling or shall have sexual intercourse under scandalous
circumstances with a woman not his wife.”
If found guilty, the
penalty for the erring husband in the Philippines is not imprisonment
but “destierro” - “banishment or only a prohibition from residing within
the radius of 25 kilometers from the actual residence of the accused for
a specified length of time.”
It’s not even a slap
on the wrist. In the macho culture of the Philippines, it’s the
equivalent of a Nobel Prize.
Consider the curious
case of Rodrigo Duterte. When he announced his candidacy for president
on December 1, 2015, he candidly revealed to the 10,000 supporters who
gathered in Taguig City that he had two wives and two girlfriends. He
expressed regrets that he had gotten older because when he was younger,
he said he could spend the whole night with his girlfriends but now he
could only spend “short time” with them.
As the Philippine
Daily Inquirer (LINK)
reported: “Of his two wives, he said: “I have a wife who is sick.
Then I have a second wife, who is from Bulacan.” He said his second wife
worked as a nurse in the United States and that she got pregnant after
his frequent trips to that country, when he was still a congressman. “I
have two girlfriends. One is working as a cashier and the other works
for a cosmetics store at a mall. The one working at the cosmetics store
is younger. The other one is older but more beautiful.”
Philippines, open disclosures about marital infidelities can enhance the
political fortunes of candidates. Duterte’s poll ratings increased even
as he kissed women supporters on the lips and even grabbed their breasts
in public as Trump said he did with another part of the female anatomy.
With less than a month
to go before the May 10, 2016 elections, Duterte recounted to a packed
Quezon City rally the time when he was mayor of Davao in December of
1989 and the inmates of his city jail had overpowered their guards,
grabbed their weapons, and took 15 people, mostly women, including
36-year-old Australian lay minister Jacqueline Hamill, hostage.
He said that by the
time he and his men were able to recapture the city jail, the inmates
had already raped all the women hostages and had slashed their throats.
Duterte said that when the bodies of the victims were laid out for him
to examine, he saw the wrapped body of the Australian missionary.
“I looked at her
face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son
of a bitch, what a waste! What came to mind was, they raped her, they
lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she
was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”
It was all a joke to
Duterte. Damn those inmates for disrespecting his status as mayor. They
should have allowed him to rape the Australian missionary first.
Instead of revulsion,
this sick joke propelled Duterte to the presidency.
After assuming the
presidency, Duterte surround himself with men unlike the example of his
predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III, who appointed strong women to top
posts: Leila deLima as Secretary of Justice, Lourdes Serrano as Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court and Conchita Carpio-Morales as Ombudsman.
Duterte did have a
woman as vice president but only because Leni Robredo from the
opposition Liberal Party was elected vice-president over Duterte’s
favored candidate, Bongbong Marcos.
At first Duterte
refused calls to appoint Robredo to a cabinet posit as custom and
tradition dictated. Public clamor eventually caused him to appoint
Robredo to head the housing council.
But boys will be boys.
Duterte told the press that he was unable to concentrate on anything
Robredo said at cabinet meetings because he was too distracted by her
The Gabriela Women’s
Party denounced Duterte for his remarks declaring that they “perpetuate
Her distracting legs
notwithstanding, Robredo’s open criticism of Duterte’s policy of
encouraging extrajudicial killings to advance his anti-drug war crusade
and her opposition to his decision to allow the Dictator Marcos to be
buried in the hero’s cemetery proved too much for Duterte who ordered
Robredo banned from attending cabinet meetings. This forced Robredo to
resign from her cabinet post.
of webpage with links to articles on Robredo's rumored pregnancy
Soon after Robredo’s
resignation, Duterte’s army of trolls began a “demolition” campaign
against the Vice-President falsely accusing her of being pregnant from
an alleged affair with a married congressman.
Duterte even brought
up the rumor in a speech in Tacloban City on November 22 when he openly
speculated as to who the Vice-President’s congressman lover may be.
Robredo denied the
news being spread in the Duterte websites that she was pregnant (at 52!)
or that she had a congressman-lover. Robredo said if true, it would be
“funny but at the same time, it is an insult to all of us women.”
The line of attack
against Robredo initiated by the Duterte Army of Trolls is what has been
called by Leora Tanenbaum as “slut-shaming” - “the experience of
being labeled a sexually out-of-control girl or woman (a “slut” or “ho”)
and then being punished socially for possessing this identity.
Slut-shaming is sexist because only girls and women are called to task
for their sexuality, whether real or imagined; boys and men are
congratulated for the exact same behavior. This is the essence of the
sexual double standard: Boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts.”
This tact of
“slut-shaming” was most viciously employed against opposition Senator
Leila DeLima who was attacked by Duterte and his army of trolls for her
admitted affair with her driver, Ronnie Dayan. It was not enough to
allege that they had sex, but the intimate details of their sex had to
be bared in vulgar detail to the public in televised hearings conducted
by Duterte’s congressional allies. As if that was not outrageous enough,
they went even further.
of webpage with links to articles on DeLima's sex life
The Duterte trolls
scoured the porn universe to find a video of a woman who looked like
Sen. DeLima and then after they found one, presented it as “prima facie
evidence” of DeLima and Dayan having sex. Google “DeLima sextape” and
you will see dozens and dozens of video docs showing a portly Asian
woman with glasses having porn sex with an African-American man. One
such porn video on YouTube produced by “Rodrigo Duterte Latest News”
drew 1,336,300 hits.
The porn video was
supposed to be presented at a congressional hearing but the proposal was
pulled after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Justice Secretary
Vitaliano Aguirre II retracted their allegation that it was DeLima on
Even as various media
confirmed that it was not DeLima on the sex tape, Duterte continued to
insist that it was DeLima he watched again and again. “She was not only
screwing her driver, she was screwing the nation…Every time I watch the
video, I lose my appetite. Only people who will fall for her are … I am
not a guard or a motorcycle cop or convict,” he said.
In response to
Duterte’s false allegations, Sen. DeLima assailed Duterte’s “misogyny”
declaring that no woman should be punished for embracing her sexuality.
“Not because only
women have or experience it – if all the phallic jokes and fascination
with the sexual act and footage thereof is any indication – but because…
well, apparently because we are women and, apparently, we have no right
to own and enjoy our sexuality,” De Lima said.
“Men can boast about
all the women they’ve bedded and conquered. But it’s a mortal sin if a
woman even dares to embrace her sexuality.”
“This is not about
having a sense of humor but having sensitivity towards real issues
affecting women. By allowing ourselves to be bullied into silence, we
are unconsciously being groomed to laugh at abuse, and in so laughing
become abusers ourselves,” De Lima said.
Trump and Duterte may
be brothers in the same macho fraternity of predators in chief but Trump
did succeed in unifying millions of women in the U.S. to go out into the
streets to protest his misogyny. For some reason, the women of the
Philippines could not muster the same energy to mount a women’s march
One week after the
Women’ March that didn’t happen in Manila, the Miss Universe contestants
proudly marched down the ramp of the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila for
their swimsuit and evening gown competition while Pres. Duterte grinned
and enjoyed the spectacle broadcast to the world on Fox.
Outside the pageant,
Emmi De Jesus, of the Gabriela party-list group, told the press:
"Despite the pomp and supposed celebration of women power surrounding
the 65th Miss Universe pageant, women here and abroad remain in their
unglamorous and exploited state. In the Philippines, 22 women and
children are raped every day. Women workers remain concentrated in
low-paying, contractual jobs. And mothers face rising budget pressure
amid looming price hikes in basic commodities, power and water."
Perhaps the Gabriela
message will be enough to prod Manila and other cities in the
Philippines to “break the religion-based rules” and join the next
Women’s March, just like they did in 81 other countries of the world on
"Once it happens in a
generation that a spirit of resistance is awakened," said Rabbi Sharon
Brous at the Women’s March on Washington DC rally. "This is one of those
moments. Our children will one day ask us ‘where were you when our
country was thrust into a lion’s den of demagoguery and division,'" she
said. Published 2/8/2017
(Send comments to
Rodel50@gmail.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at
2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800).