RISING TOGETHER. Men and women dance together as part of the observance of the One Billion Rising movement at the Press Freedom Monument in Cagayan de Oro City on February 14. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines –The outrage over the latest pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte ordering soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina has fueled the protest against the abuse of women in time for the fifth commemoration of the One Billion Rising movement on Wednesday, February 14.

The women’s group Gabriela said they take Duterte’s statements about women as not just insulting but the lowest form of degradation.

“He (Duterte) has worsened the situation of women. We have been looked down by men, he is only making it worse,” said Gabriela Northern Mindanao spokesperson Amalin Baroma on the sidelines of the One Billion Rising event at the Press Freedom Monument in Velez St. on Wednesday.

In a press conference, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque defended Duterte saying that the chief executive was just joking when he ordered the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to shoot the women insurgents’ genitals so they could no longer be useful.

Duterte’s remarks, she said, “further encourage state forces to commit human rights violations on alleged rebels in the countryside, violating international humanitarian law. This comment also openly perpetuated violence against women, adds to the impunity of state forces and holds no one accountable for said malicious acts.”

But Baroma said the President should not make jokes that degrade the women. “It is not good for him (Duterte) to make such remarks. It only shows his true character.”

In news reports, Duterte has been accused of being misogynistic and “macho fascist” by civil society groups and advocates of women’s rights.

Other groups find it ironic for Duterte to issue such statement when Davao City issued a Women’s Code when he was still the mayor there.

In Cagayan de Oro, about 300 men and women from various sectors participated in the One Billion Rising.

This global movement which started as a statement to end violence against women has now evolved into different sectors of the world against neoliberal policies that attack the people’s right to life.

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