International media should move on from Duterte’s rape joke and focus on the hard tasks ahead

Australian morning show Sunrise featured a segment on presumptive Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss his win in the recent presidential elections. The show had an Australian political analyst named Dr Keith Suter as guest who speculated on what a Duterte President would be like. Even before he was introduced, the two hosts of the show already had their grim faces on; meaning, they already harbored their preconceived notions about Duterte that weren’t very positive. This is most likely a result of the negative publicity Duterte got from local and other international media sites in the lead up to the presidential elections.

As usual they were comparing Duterte again with outspoken U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and even went on to say that Duterte makes Trump look like the Pope. They think that Duterte is worse than Trump, which I think is an incorrect assessment. Political analyst Suter, however, echoed their sentiments by saying that Australians should be worried about a Duterte Presidency based on Duterte’s previous statements about being in favor of gang raping a nun and telling the Australian Ambassador to shut up after she spoke out against Duterte’s rape “joke”.

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While I was one of those people who disapproved of Duterte’s remarks in reference to the Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill who was taken as hostage, gang raped and killed by inmates from a detention center in Davao City in 1989, I have to say that the political analyst was wrong in his interpretation. When Duterte said “The Mayor should have been the first”, he didn’t mean that he approved of gang rape. This was quite evident in his next move during the standoff, which, according to his own narration, was to shoot the inmates. Obviously, Duterte found the actions of the convicts despicable enough to sentence them to their own deaths right there and then.

Unfortunately, Duterte’s remark about Hamill will haunt him for the rest of his term. It is not surprising that members of the international community from progressive countries such as Australia were shocked by his rape remarks. Even some Filipinos were wondering why sex would enter Duterte’s mind in the middle of a violent standoff. But it could all be a bad mix of cultural nuances and foolish bravado during a testosterone-fuelled encounter.

As a woman, it is indeed hard to defend what Duterte said. But we all have to deal with the fact that he will represent the Philippines to the world and we don’t want the international community to think that Filipinos just voted a leader who has a fetish for gang rape. I do believe the international community’s impression of Duterte is wrong, which is why I am compelled to try and make sense of his remarks.

Why do I think their impressions are wrong? Because Duterte has a daughter and granddaughter of his own. He showcased them in his last campaign sortie. I don’t think he would want them to go through what the Australian missionary did. He is also tough on crime including rape. He’s even earned the nickname “The Punisher” for it.

A male friend of mine gave his own perspective on Duterte’s remarks. He said that Duterte probably meant that he thought it was a shame that such a beautiful woman was violated and that he probably wished that she could have been his girlfriend instead – that if she was his and taken care of her, she would not have ended in such a bad way. This interpretation gives Duterte’s  “rape” remark a romantic light. Duterte may have wanted to say that he acted like Maximus Decimus Meridius after seeing his wife and son murdered. Of course I’m just guessing.

At the end of the day, we can only speculate on what Duterte meant because, being mutilingual, he may have been struggling to find the right words to describe how he felt at that time. And now we are struggling to find an excuse for what he said. We can only hope that the international community will stop focusing on his remark and focus on how he will deal with the hard task of fixing the problems left behind by the outgoing administration under President Benigno Simeon Aquino. After all, a lot of Filipinos from the A and B crowd voted for Duterte. They wouldn’t have picked him if he was into gang rape, you would think. In other words, the international community should trust the Filipino people’s choice for a change particularly since Duterte did not just get sympathy votes the way BS Aquino did in 2010.

The Australian political analyst did get some things right about Philippine politics. That in the last 30 years after the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr was ousted, the Philippines has been led by people from same thin ruling elite who are just taking turns running the country. Millions of people are missing out on the wealth that is being generated because only a few benefit from the country’s economic growth. Suter was correct in saying that Duterte is the result of the voters’ anger that has been brewing since Filipinos realized that BS Aquino is part of the Philippines’ problem and that he is only looking out for his own personal interests and that of his allies.

Foreign political analysts fail to figure out President Rodrigo Duterte.

Foreign political analysts fail to figure out President Rodrigo Duterte.

It remains to be seen if Duterte can live up to the people’s expectations. Like Suter said, he is also part of the ruling class that people have started to hate. The only difference is, he doesn’t act like one of them.

Will Duterte be able to distribute the wealth and create a bigger middle class in Philippine society? It will take drastic reforms to do that. Duterte already said that he would open the economy to foreign investors. Members of the Philippine oligarchy who own most of the businesses that provide services and products including the supply of water, electricity and Internet access have been blocking moves to allow 100 percent foreign ownership to avoid competition for years. Filipinos have to live with bad products and services due to that lack of alternatives.

Duterte is also going to push for federalism. Being from Davao, he knows that the current centralized government neglects areas that are too far from Imperial Manila. A federal form of government that divides power between a strong national government and smaller local governments could be the solution to the full development of provinces that are currently at the mercy of the national government for funding. 

A lot of Filipinos are also hoping that Duterte would shift the country’s political system to a parliamentary form of government. This could mean that the tradition of choosing from the same types of bozos during elections would end since people will be choosing based on political parties and not personalities.

It would be wise for international political analysts to understand the way local politics work before they come up with negative conclusions about Filipino politicians. After all, most of them were all praises for BS Aquino when he started. They were all beholden to his name and taken by his promise to get rid of corruption only to end up as a disappointment in the end. In other words, foreign observers got it wrong before in their analysis of BS Aquino and, therefore, they could be wrong about Duterte too.

28 Replies to “International media should move on from Duterte’s rape joke and focus on the hard tasks ahead”

  1. To Hilda:
    “Unfortunately, Duterte’s remark about Hamill will haunt him for the rest of his term.” This is probably the only truth in your article.. the rest being conjecture, hope and deodorant. Everybody knows, possibly with your exception, that the man made a ‘boner’ of a quip which he did not expect to have any kind of ‘shelf life’. He was wrong and is now simply ‘brazening’ his way through the flak; and his term hasn’t even started. Without a doubt, Mr Duterte won because he stood out as a choice unlike the others who simply mirrored the same old wishful, inept and corrupt governance; and he won resoundingly..the electorate spoke very clearly. Ours, now, is just to congratulate him, support him fully and hope for the best.. and to stop talking, (not even to defend), about that ‘quip’.

    1. @vagoneto rieles

      Whoa…even with an idiot proof title, you still missed the point. How bizarre!

      “Move on” from the “rape” joke was what I was trying to tell people who can’t move on from it. Perhaps you need to read the article again or work on your comprehension skills to get it.

      1. To Ms. Ilda..
        ..”Mr Duterte won because he stood out as a choice unlike the others who simply mirrored the same old wishful, inept and corrupt governance; and he won resoundingly..the electorate has spoken very clearly. Ours, now, is just to congratulate him, support him fully and hope for the best.” .. my words, indicating that we are not stuck, wringing our hands over spilt milk. My point really was.. have you really moved on from being quite the apologist for the good mayor.. thereby, not really ‘letting go’.. but, to the contrary, keeping the issue alive? Do you really want to do that? Couldn’t we just forget about it and let the whole matter slide into oblivion?

        1. No, nobody can simply “forget” a statement about raping a nun such as the one that Duterte issued during his campaign. We’re just being consistent here, dude. If BS Aquino had issued a similar statement, he’d never hear the end of it from us. NEVER. In fact, we’ve taken Aquino to task on EVERY statement he’s made over the last six years and during his campaign. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

          So tough luck mate. The only way Duterte will get away with this is if he proves that he is not what the foreign media paint him to be through solid achievement.

          That’s just the way things work and that’s just the way GRP works.

        2. There you go again, missing the point. The article is dedicated to people who cannot “move on”. If you have moved on, then this article is not for you. There are obviously people who have not moved on and you need to accept that. A lot of them are from the international community who are not familiar with the way Filipinos think. I’m not trying to be an “apologist” for the mayor. I was even clear in the article that I was one of those who disapproved of his rape remark.

          You wish people would “let it go” but the only way to do that is to tackle the matter and analyse it head on for those who cannot let it go.

          BTW, if you don’t like the article, moving on from this site is also an option.

  2. Pres. Duterte is not even featured and talked to, in American media. Not the way, the American media featured much, about Cory Aquino. Can you see the bias of the American media now? If , it is not for their interest; a clueless housewife, is featured as a heroine; and hope of the Filipinos. Americans refused to see, that Cory Aquino was a Feudal Oligarch…

    Those Australians, should let things go. Move on, beyond the “rape comment”, of then Mayor Duterte. We, in the Philippines, have much problems to solve, other than indulge in such useless, debate of who said this, and who said that…or whether it is politically correct to say that…

    The rape and murder of the late Jackie Hamil, was an outrageous and unfortunate one. However, those rapists/murderers, I think, were punished…

    1. they were gunned down. and buried in a hole as The Punisher ordered. “no separate burial for the fools.”.

  3. The fact that Mayor Duterte won the presidential race absolves him of those nasty jokes which he uttered during the campaign that has been misinterpreted by some. It’s time to move on unless a person could not accept that a person could also make mistakes or shall we say been misintepreted.

  4. For the Renewable Energy, if Pres. Duterte and Sen. Marcos are interested. They can contact the:

    Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).

    Offices at:

    7558 Deer Road ,
    Custer, Wisconsin 54423
    Tel. no. (715) 592-6595

    1754 University Ave. West
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

    3628 W. Pierce St.
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    53215 U.S.A.


    They will have an Annual Energy Fair, this : June 17-19, 2016
    at: Custer, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

    All regarding advanced Renewable Energy Equipment and advancements, will be highlighted in the Annual Energy Fair.

    You may see, Hyden Toro, there …

  5. Ok. I think I get now what your friend and Add is trying to say in his article about Digong’s rape remark. Watching the video again, the people in the background laughing on cue with the rape joke put it in a bad light. Digong wasn’t laughing when he said that. But it didn’t help that Digong wasn’t able to clarify what he meant and it’s a common joke for perverted Pinoy to say “sana ako muna ang nauna”. It is something men would say out of frustration on missing out on beautiful women but only with people who understand their or share the same flaw and most of the time just in the confines of their drinking session. Still, it’s a bad joke. But the important thing is Digong did apologize for it and afterwards explained his hate over gang rape. This remark “sana ako muna ang naunang nang-rape” if it’s what he meant doesn’t jive with the kind of man he is who condemns rape, who want women protected and work hard to make sure they are protected and make sure justice is served to the rape victims.

    Hopefully, the international community won’t be quick to judge but should they do so, they would judge based on proven actions not on mere words. It’s becoming evident how much they don’t understand about the Philippines when they think BSAquino and Mar did a great job and they preferred a foundling (The Economist) over someone who can constitute real change (starting from the root of the problem that’s just what the country needs).

  6. This reminds me of the heavy negative media attention given to Putin (Russian President) by the western media. I dunno if you guys remember but Putin had an election cheating scandal when he was elected a couple of years ago. Since then, the western media, particularly US media, made it seem like Putin is an awful person and an awful president. But upon talking to an actual Russian, it turns out that Russians themselves think Putin is the greatest president they’ve ever had.

    Even before the elections, I’ve already predicted that the same will happen to Digong. He’ll get a lot of heat from the media of these progressive countries. But then, if Putin can make Russia great despite the negative attention by ignorant foreigners, then so can Digong.

  7. To Benign0..
    “So tough luck mate. The only way Duterte will get away with this is if he proves that he is not what the foreign media paint him to be through solid achievement.”..Thanks, my sentiments precisely; as I had so written earlier. We seem to have our lines crossed somehow. I think I’ll give it a rest for a bit.

  8. When ever someone speculates it usually translates to not knowing shit. The word analyst has “anal” in it.

    Yeah, Dr. Keith Sucker!

  9. then again, the way media bias works in Australia would be, for instance, how much space and time is spent on, say, Australian seaman’s unions helping out Filipino seamen aboard foreign vessels whose wages are either withheld or not paid to get justice, or foreign students or even teenagers being underpaid, as with the recent 7-11 convenience store scandal there where systematic underpayment of many workers was uncovered…

  10. Just on this issue:

    Ilda: “This was quite evident in his next move DURING THE STAND OFF, which, ACCORDING TO HIS OWN NARRATION, was TO SHOOT THE INMATES. Obviously, Duterte found the actions of the convicts despicable enough to sentence them to their own deaths RIGHT THERE AND THEN.”

    It’s interesting to note that No GRP Writer decided to write an article – re the above incident (1989 Davao Hostage Crisis) in relation to Mr. Duterte’s unapolegetic rape joke remark against the Australian missionary – and let that angle of the issue just pass, universally ignored even, when that was the very contention of the mayor and his supporters that that 1989 STAND OFF would have supposedly explain the narrative of his joke!

    Like most filipinos, I wish Mr. Duterte and the Nation Good Luck and Success! However, some things are without compromise…like history and the truth! Is the then Mayor and now incoming President of the Republic and his supporters being true and transparent?!

    “A soldier walks over Jacqueline Hamill’s body after the prison assault. This contradicts Duterte’s claim that he saw the body and was motivated by this to lead the charge. (The Age, August 16, 1989)”

    Mike Logico: “Conspicuously missing from the three narratives is the name of a certain public official who claims to have been there, negotiating with the hostage takers, and getting involved in the shootout.”

    Roberto Tiglao: “Did he make things up to justify his necrophiliac joke?”

  11. In line with the title of this site,I will inject an overseas viewpoint.Duterte has received international media coverage because he is current,and provides good copy.That he appears a crude,foul-mouthed vigilante who insults regional allies while his country has a dispute with the regional 800 lb gorilla makes him look a loose cannon.What would be his response if the chief exec of Hong Kong SAR had made the same remark about the rape of a Filipina OFW in Hong Kong?

    On a more local focus,the fact that he is from a provincial political family,rather than a national one,might mean that he has less to lose from a political or economic shake-up.

    I doubt he will be able to make serious advances on improving the economy in 6 years,although Constitutional Change might open discussion on a way forward.One chink of light is that a contributor on another forum has stated that several of the 44 families are fed up with the status quo,and could support economic liberalism.

    On change to the system of government,I am less optimistic.Getting a consensus for change is one thing,agreement on the replacement is another.I list below some of the options,and leave you to decide who,of the current entrenched positions,gains or loses in terms of power,if not opportunities for corruption.

    What are the powers of the President{Head of State} and Prime Minister{Head of Government}?

    How do you divide the country into Autonomous Units?

    What areas are reserved for the State and what will be delegated to the AUs?

    Will AUs have tax raising power{like USA}or will revenue be raised centrally and allocated as a block grant?

    Will you have 1 or 2 chambers of Parliament?Will you have representation based on proportion of population or voters,or on proportion of AUs?

    Proportional representation or ‘first past the post’?

    Looking around the world{or from where I am in it}most of the federal states were formed by uniting existing self-governing areas {USA Germany Switzerland Malaysia }not by devolving an existing united country.I am British,and can see at first hand what a dogs breakfast we have made of it.I would say that the chances of even outline agreement within Duterte’s Presidency range between slim and none,and I think Slim might be leaving town.

    The grounds for optimism from all the above is that it will be interesting to hear the supporters of various combinations producing reasoned arguments in support of their position.If this moves the political debate from personality to policy that at least must be a plus.

    Please note I am throwing out options,and my list is not comprehensive.I also am not endorsing any particular position,although obviously I have my own opinion but accept that others are equally,if not more,valid.

  12. First of all Du30 said it wasn’t a joke. So it was good it is in italics in the article. But since people keep referring to it as a regular joke, there already is a big disconnect in how people are reading this guy – it’s not just the perspective of foreign media but that of even local Pinoys themselves.

    We should rather call the rape-related remark a “metaphorical expression of disgust and rage using gutter language” (quite long but more accurate). This is in contrast to how a female praying mantis would cuss when she gets to copulate with her mate but fails to successfully eat him in the process. The latter has genuine intent, the former does not.

    Du30 narrated this dark incident throwing it out into the open during the campaign trail ON PURPOSE. So he took calculated risks of exposing vulnerability in bringing his guard down – the advantage of getting more limelight at the expense of having a bad first impression in foreign shores or losing votes.

    But as I mentioned in my recent article – controversy is one easy route to getting to the TOP. And there you have it – Du30, the political strategist that he is, won as expected.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about media esp. foreign ones wrt to how they view Du30. Du30 keeps hitting the headlines with one controversial move/statement after the other. Forgetting the whole “rape” statement will concomitantly follow as layers upon layers of new issues arise and pile up with our radical new president elect.

    Next we see Du30 opening the doors wide open for the Reds to hold key government positions, a looming threat to the Yellow heartland (Hacienda Luisita) itself. PNoy must already be shuddering at the thought!

    From the way things are going so far and with all his pronouncements, I am very pleased. I don’t regret voting for the guy. I would love to see the Yellow camp crumble for all their crimes vs. humanity. I would love to see Filipinos regain some degree of self-respect.

    Rather than talk about Du30’s “rape” remark, Pinoys who have been relentlessly gang raped by stupid dimwits all these many years should get the guy in front of that queue to PAY HARD for messing with them, their money, and their country. It’s payback time – and the howls will be music to our ears when we see the hacienda torn into smithereens.

  13. “Will Duterte be able to distribute the wealth and create a bigger middle class in Philippine society? It will take drastic reforms to do that. Duterte already said that he would open the economy to foreign investors. Members of the Philippine oligarchy who own most of the businesses that provide services and products including the supply of water, electricity and Internet access have been blocking moves to allow 100 percent foreign ownership to avoid competition for years. Filipinos have to live with bad products and services due to that lack of alternatives.” – Yes, don’t just distribute the wealth; make it even bigger to benefit more people. Also, teach people how to make themselves wealthy with little to no government intervention. Also, how about executing those who oppose economic liberalization? I would celebrate if the likes of Colmenares, Casiño, and other leftard groups such as Bobo Muna are executed for this….. >:)

    1. Pres. Duterte, must level the playing fields, for the sake of most Filipinos…the business fields are mostly in favor of those Aquino’s Feudal Oligarchs.

    2. I’ll say it again, zaxx.

      Opening the government to the Reds is a double-edged sword. Yes, they might put an end to the hacienda system, but also to the entire Philippines as a democratic state, if they’re left unchecked.

      There’s also the possibility of them implementing their ridiculous social policies that may do massive damage to the economy. Imagine KMU getting a free hand in infiltrating and sabotaging private enterprises (like they’ve done in years) under the pathetic pretext of “protecting workers’ welfare”. Some prominent communists-in-hiding like Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares (good thing he didn’t win last election) are against economic liberalization.

      DU30 should think about this. Don’t trust his former professor too much. Otherwise he’ll put his administration, and the whole nation, in jeopardy.

      1. Well that’s where the great balancing act of Du30 comes in – to please the people, the Reds, the Moros, the oligarchs, the foreign investors… truly a show worth watching.

        I don’t really care if the house of cards suddenly comes crashing down. The point is – we tried a different experiment. If it fails, we can check that off and proceed with the next.

        It’s more fun in the Philippines – esp. under Du30.

        1. I just hope that if Duterte’s “experiment” fails, it won’t cost too much lives. Otherwise, there won’t be a chance for another experiment.

  14. They can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or they can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.

  15. Rubbish comments you did not even know President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.. Your conclusion just depends on the media in the Philippines which paid by rich politician and publish Rody Duterte as bad guy.. Dig more and research Davao City where he ruled for morethan 20 years…The Dr on the left says the reason why Duterte was elected is because a hundred million Filipinos live in poverty; and that there is no middle class electorate. It really makes all the more sense why President Duterte told their delegates to shut up.

    No, a hundred million Filipinos do not live in poverty, and we do actually have a middle class. And if you read the statistics, Duterte secured victory because he won the votes of upper and middle class Filipinos. Why? Because we’re tired of the state of criminality in our country.

    I really find it hypocritical how foreign press would taunt our country’s dismal public safety issues, but as soon as we elect someone to do something about it, foreigners start spewing self-righteous rabble on their ivory towers…get a fact men research first before you talk so you’re not going to swallow what you said… Be a professional Media not a gossip media just sayin!!!! Grrrr????????????????????

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