“He is a deranged president who is ignorant of women’s role in the society, further proving his incompetence in office,” said Ka (Comrade) Kathryn, a female red fighter of the Melito Glor Command – New People’s Army Southern Tagalog (MGC – NPA ST) in a statement released on February 16.
MGC – NPA ST also expressed concern that more women in the countryside will be victims of sexual violence and abuses by the mercenary Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and other paramilitary groups in the conduct of their military operations.
On February 7, President Rodrigo Duterte hosting more than 200 former rebels at the Malacañang Palace remarked to shoot female NPA guerillas in the vagina upon their capture.
“Shoot her in the vagina, Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina, so that… If there is no vagina, it would be useless,” said Duterte upon being told that the female NPA fighters ‘fight like amazons.’
The latest of Duterte’s remarks criticized to be vulgar, sexist, misogynist and also encouraged violence against women was revealed days later than when Duterte made the comment. Women all over the country and around the world were quick to react negatively to Duterte’s statement.
Reaction of Gabriela Rep. @ArleneBrosas to Pres Spox Roque's defense of Duterte's 'shoot in the vagina' remark:
Take women's anger literally and seriously! pic.twitter.com/RAjusHWMkh
— Gabriela WomensParty (@GabrielaWomenPL) February 13, 2018
The comment was also slammed for inciting to commit war crimes and international humanitarian law and human rights violations.
In non-international armed conflicts, Article 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II provide that persons deprived of liberty for reasons related to the conflict must also be treated humanely in all circumstances. In particular, they are protected against murder, torture, as well as cruel, humiliating or degrading treatment.
For the sick and those wounded in combat, The Common Article 3 of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949 states that “…the wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for (…) they shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict in whose power they may be, without any adverse distinction founded on sex, race, nationality, religion, political opinions or any other similar criteria.” The parties to the Conventions also have to search for and collect the wounded and sick and to ensure them protection and care (article 15).
The Philippines has been party to the conventions in 1951 and 1952, as well as the Additional Protocols I, II and III in 2012, 1986 and 2006 respectively.
Duterte has made numerous rape jokes in the past, including the infamous “mayor ang dapat mauna” (mayor should be first) during the presidential race. He also told soldiers that he would take the fall if they rape women in Marawi in the midst of government’s military operations against ISIS-affiliated militants in the historic Islamic city. In his visit to New Delhi, Duterte said he would offer 42 virgins to tourists visiting the Philippines.
On February 13, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told Duterte’s critics “not to take the President literally but take him seriously.”
Netizens, journalists and church people found the statement “paradoxical” and were quick to react over social media as fake news or false information coming from government officials or offices have been in the limelight of late, following Senate hearings on fake news.
Lit. 101: Don’t take Duterte literally but take him seriously? If he was speaking figuratively when he said shoot women guerrillas in the vagina, then what he was really saying was kill every woman who fights back, protests or objects to something. That’s even more serious.
— Luis V. Teodoro (@luisteodoro) February 13, 2018
"When you have a president who tells his troops to shoot female combatants in the vagina… And you have an audience that applauds in respect of that statement, that is the basic architecture that allows fake news to become true, applauded and valued." – Bro. Armin
— Natashya Gutierrez (@natashya_g) February 15, 2018
“Men and women alike should stand together to fight the atrocities of the US-Duterte regime and forward their struggle to overthrow and end the fascist and tyrannical US-Duterte regime,” said Ka Diego Padilla, MGC – NPA ST spokesperson.