Why Duterte fans continue to justify his rape joke


RODRIGO DUTERTE’s unorthodox language and idiosyncratic campaign style have skyrocketed his popularity to such mind-blowing proportions.

The tough-talking mayor of Davao city recently drew flak for cracking a joke on the 1989 rape-slay of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill.

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“She was gang-raped, (the prisoners) had lined up for their turn. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. Sayang!”

Human rights activists (and netizens, of course) were quick to denounce his snarky remark in both traditional and social media. But his devotees made an even swifter move to defend their glorious presidential bet.

In the Philippines, rape is a heinous crime punishable by life imprisonment. The ugly culture of rape is surely no laughing matter. This is not even a debate, we can all agree. But why do fans and supporters of Duterte still justify the mayor’s rape joke with extraordinary passion?

Psychology can give us some hot tips.


According to social identity theory, one’s self-esteem and self-worth can be enhanced through basking in others’ victory or through broadcasting one’s association to powerful and successful people. Think of a mother posting about her daughter’s achievements on Facebook. Or a student proudly wearing his school uniform during an intercollegiate academic competition.

It is human nature to associate oneself to known successful others, as if the winner’s success becomes one’s own accomplishment. We used to identify ourselves with our favorite sports team, school, celebrity, popular brand, and yes, even political preference. For example:

Duterte supporters tend to associate themselves with the mayor’s stratospheric survey ratings.

Miriam fans identify themselves with the senator’s intelligence and outstanding government record.

Poe tries to bask in her father’s blockbuster popularity and appeal to the masses.

Some politicians may prefer to support Roxas because of the former DILG secretary’s close ties with the current administration.

People have the tendency to shy away from Binay because of the Vice President’s corruption charges.


There is nothing wrong in associating ourselves with our favorite political figures. The problem comes in when we identify ourselves with them so excessively that we lose hold of our own personal values. This is called the psychological state of “deindividuation.” It is characterized by a partial or complete loss of identity or self-awareness that leads to antinormative behavior, restraints, and inhibitions due to too much involvement in a particular social group.

Conscious or not, Duterte supporters think criticism thrown at the mayor will threaten their public image. This explains their violent behavior online, trolling on anyone who expresses even the slightest trace of dislike for the controversial mayor. And despite being well aware that rape isn’t something to be joked about, that killing people is a grave human rights offense, that not insisting on ownership of the disputed seas would mean giving up our sovereignty, still, they have been patient to make sense out of the mayor’s contentious positions.

They said one blunder won’t change their minds. Ok, fine. But what about two, or three, or four? Sooner or later, Duterte will once again find himself caught between a hard place and a rock. But I assume his legions will support him all the same. Their individual personalities become dominated by the collective mindset of the crowd. Social psychologist Gustave Le Bon viewed this behavior as unanimous, emotional, and intellectually weak.

It is no longer a question of Duterte’s own set of moral standards. It now becomes an issue of how we remain firm to what we believe in and to the values we uphold as individuals. Recall that the popular comedian Vice Ganda also cracked a joke about rape, and notice how the people reacted differently. Duterte’s and Vice Ganda’s jokes constitute an essentially the same offense, but how we see or interpret them becomes oddly variable.

But an offense is an offense. One does not need to adjust her moral principles just to favor her own presidential bet. A candidate’s mistake is an avenue to reflect, to rethink of our choices.


We still have a few weeks before we finally express our votes through the ballot. Recognizing a candidate’s weakness bespeaks of one’s ability to choose better and more deserving leaders. For a moment or two, let us step back and disengage ourselves from our political associations and neutralize our political colors.

Let us try to remember who we are as individuals.

It is not a battle between you and a random Facebook user who happens to be wearing a political color different from yours. It is rather a noble, principled fight between you and your own self, a test of your integrity, a decision that can change your future and your countrymen’s.

Year after year, we seek to change our government. Maybe the problem is not those who are in power, but the very people who elect them.

Even more than defending our candidates, our duty as the electorate is to vote for leaders who can best deliver results. But our responsibility does not end there. Real change can’t be done by just one; it entails the participation of all.

It’s never too late to think again.

28 Replies to “Why Duterte fans continue to justify his rape joke”

  1. I am reminded of a previous article on the people’s short-term mentality. “Aquino will fix GMA’s corrupted government!” back in 2009-2010. Now it’s “Duterte will fix Aquino’s corrupted government!”

    I really have to hand it to Duterte and his campaign staff though. They’re canny enough to appeal to that latent inner machismo, and they at least appear sincere enough to capitalize on it.

    1. But, why should we be surprised?

      After 1986, it has always been the wild swing of the pendulum.
      * From the clueless Cory to the well-informed FVR
      * From the academy educated FVR to the graduate of hard knocks, Erap.
      * From the drop-out Erap to the economic professor that was GMA.
      * From the economist GMA back to a lackluster student PNoy.
      * From a dull, incompetent PNoy to what now?

      It seems like a very wild swing today, in search of competence and a doer no matter what, because the swing from GMA to PNoy turned out to be really, really wild — something horrible has happened. So, the swing back may have to be wild and horrible, hopefully not.

      The bobotantes may not really be bobo. It is just that they have been given very limited choices, and they try to adjust to that limitation.

      What is evident is that we haven’t solved the leadership vacuum that was created by an abrupt change in 1986. It even looks it has gotten worse. We know it is a systemic problem, but we avoid facing this problem squarely, so expecting 2016 to solve this vacuum is asking too much. The leadership vacuum will remain even after May 9, simply because the problem is inherent in the system.

      Every six years, there is euphoria, a hope against hope. Soon resentment sets in again. In the meantime, culture is getting damaged because for the five and half years in between, people are made not to care. So, we have seen choices that have become worse every time.

      Maybe, system was really designed to spiral downward to its doom, or at best, to bring the country back to some medieval age.

  2. Nobody justifies anything. What you don’t get till now is that it was not a joke. By not understanding what Duterte actually meant I question the intelligence of people still riding on this topic.

    The same way he never said that the pope is a son of a bitch. He was cursing the government not the pope.

    Or maybe you don’t want to get it? Is it narrow-mindedness?

    Those who are determined to be “offended” will always discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the everyone, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

  3. Over the course of the past couple of months, I have vetted the presidential candidates and in summary, the choice is still clear (at least for anyone who has an iota of gray matter): Mar and Leni.

    For starters, if the Philippines had a truly functioning judicial system, Binay would be in jail for plunder (perhaps even dead alongside his plundering BFF Erap, if GMA did’t dick around with Congress to abolish the death penalty), Duterte would be in jail for killing people and Poe would be disqualified to run for the presidency (at least for the May 2016 elections). But alas, our judiciary is terribly broken, thereby unnecessary imposing these shady characters on Filipino voters, who are not exactly the most discerning bunch of people.

    In a nutshell, Binay is a plunderer, Duterte is a killer (of small-time criminals only; not to mention, a global embarrassment to every decent Filipino), Poe is a puppet (of Danding Cojuangco, who is a bad man for all those clueless millennials out there) and Santiago is . . . well, she’s dying.

    That said, I am not sympathetic because Santiago has consistently defended corrupt public officials like ERAP and Corona during their respective impeachment trials at the Senate, GMA on the “Hello Garci” controversy and, the most recent one that takes the cake, Bong Bong—who refuses to come clean on the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, much less return the same to the Filipino people. Her thoroughly misplaced alliances ensure that Miriam Santiago will go down the annals of ignominy as a pretentious intellectual and political whore.

    I don’t see any other decent candidates standing except for Mar and Leni. Come on people . . . think!

    1. your choice. as for me i can vote for the daang matuwid and they could carry on with all their grand plans of rebuilding the country the oligarchy-friendly way while i keep my comfortable lifestyle away from it all until my host country sends me home or… i could vote for a change and actually look forward to coming home to an improved philippines. that’ll be my choice, thank you

    2. I am thinking; and is finding Mar Roxas is the Poster Boy of incompetence. He messed up everything , he managed. He was playing politics amidst the Typhoon Yolanda tragedy.

      Mar Roxas cannot distinguish between a massacre and misencounter in the Mamapasano 44 SAF heroes massacre.
      Where is the missing Typhoon Yolanda Relief fund, Mar Roxas?

      Lena Robredo is just a mediocre politician with no track record. Voting for these people, is like continuing the incompetence and corruption of Aquino…

      1. Mar can be a CEO of a company but no political leader. Liberal Party only needs someone to be on the Executive Level so they can work on their dark schemes.

    3. I don’t see any other decent candidates standing except for Mar and Leni. Come on people . . . think!

      Suit yourself. Because mentioning those two made you lost your credibility. Come on, think.

      1. What credibility…I give no damn on my credibility…my blog tell the truth…I am not blind, and people are not blind…

        YellowTard thinking gone haywire…

        1. @Winter soldier:

          Okay, your comment is for that YellowTard Troll: Virtual Vigilante. It is not for me…pardon me for it…

          You can just see, how the YellowTards in this blog site think. They believe , they are the only source of truth. They cover up the incompetence, the wickedness and vileness of their corrupt Patrons.

    4. Virtual Vigilante, I’ve heard it all before. Exactly the same crap, only at a different time. It was the same stupid reasoning that gave us this half-wit Aquino. Oh, he is so nice.

      Where are we now? You talk about decency and then in the same sentence name Roxas and Robredo? You can’t be serious.

  4. Because the injustices Filipinos experience everyday from the corrupt, incompetent, self serving government is overwhelming that it dwarfs the inappropriateness of his statement made in 1989 when he was furious. Duterte’s presisency promises radical change, and people support him on that, it may seem scary but he has Davao to prove that he can do it. And the hypocrisy of those who cry foul especially the image conscious Filipinos, their anger should be focused on the criminals and the government that turns its back on the victims.

  5. What ‘principled” battle you are talking about?

    Is stealing from the missing Typhoon Yolanda Relief fund, a part of that principled battle?

    The Rape comment of Duterte is insensitive. However, compared how Aquino, Roxas, and the whore: Kris Aquino, using the government Helicopters for their campaigning is more vicious issue. They are using our taxpayers’ money to deceive us, to vote for them.

    “Ginigisa na tayo sa sarili natin mantika”.
    These people have no good principles; have wicked norms; and have distorted values…

    I am not endorsing Duterte. Vote what you want, except, Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo.

    If you vote for these Clones of Aquino. It will be more of the same. Do not vote for any candidate of the Liberal Party…they are all corrupt.

  6. Its insanity to fight a losing battle to wage war against oligarchs, traditional politicians and organized crime who controls our country’s political climate. Its more logical to rehabilitate our Constitution than relying on politician empty promises.

    1. The first part of your post is true. The second part does not follow. How are you going to rehabilitate something that was written by the criminal classes?

      They say that the sweetest revenge is to live well. So do so. Ignore the politicians and their stupid “constitutions” and laws. Learn to behave like Godly people. Stop destroying your natural capital. Build new civic institutions to replace those that the government refuses to provide. Then you may live well.

    2. @Camara

      No cultural revolution has ever succeeded by not even trying.

      What you said makes no sense. So you don’t rely on politicians? Then who may I ask will change the Constitution? Your mom?

  7. The rape remarks was not a joke. It is the actual narration. I don’t think you’ve seen the actual video. You have to see the video in the context. It was a wrong remarks but you have to write a piece which is the truth and not ride the wave of those vested interest politicians concluding that he was joking. Oh! come on Man. Tsk tsk.

    1. It’s just an insensitive comment. You are making mountains out of ant hills. If Duterte has some immoral thoughts about that rape victim. It is his problem.

      On the other hand; let us focus on the true issues of our country. Which are: feudalism;Hacienda Luisita;illegal drugs; widespread corruption; squatter multiplying like ants; Filipinos multiplying like rabbits; Abuse of Power, by Aquino and Roxas; the festering Mindanao problem; family political dynasties; runaway inflations; no middle class; widespread unemployment; OFWs; incompetence of officials; etc…too many to enumerate…and you are just focusing on the insensitive mouth of Duterte? Nonsense!

  8. GRP Critical Thinkers seem to have lost their senses when some became Dutertards themselves!

    Dutertards have different perspective vs. Critical Thinkers!

    Quite ironic that Dutertards find Ramon Bautista’s “hipon joke of davao women” as offensive while Duterte’s “rape joke of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill” as something of a laughing matter!

    Duterte: “Nakita ko yung Australyana, tangina, kaganda nito, naunahan pa ako.”

    The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) which “envisions a relatively crime-free and corruption-free Philippines” laughing at the mayor’s rape joke during the book launch of Dante Jimenez at Century Park Manila, last January 14, 2016 is DEFINITELY A JOKE!

    1. There are more important issues of our country, that are waiting to be addressed; problems to be solved. Amend or change the Constitution of Cory Aquino. It was tailored for the Feudal Oligarchs. Bring back the death penalty.

      Focus on these issues. Not the senseless remarks of Duterte.

      I am not endorsing any candidate. However, I am encouraging everybody, not to vote for Mar Roxas, Leni Robredo and any candidates of the Liberal Party. They are all crooks, beginning from Aquino.

  9. The article falls short by not mentioning the true narrative made in the heat of the hostage crisis, so that readers will understand the full context why a womanizer narrated the phrase “i should have been first” seeing a beautiful lady. This is just not an illusion that drives Duterte followers to defend him.

  10. Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.

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