President Rodrigo Duterte (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is willing to raise the issue of the Filipino comfort women with the Japanese government when he gets the chance. However, the President said that he is going to be careful of not being identified with the protesters so as not to get an “outright rebuke”.

In a media briefing here on Thursday night, Duterte said that he can raise the problem to the Japanese government, “point out the victims and start the talk.”

“If I go there, if I can get to talk to them again, I would just talk about comfort women and what we intend to do. But I cannot go there with a mindset, because if I do that my language would be different,” he said.

“Magsabi ka doon na we are here to demand remuneration and everything, damage, ah wala na (If you will go there to demand remuneration and everything, then nothing will happen),” he said.

“If I go there, sabihin ng kabila, you come here not really to negotiate or to have a dialogue because you have this mindset. Mahirap yan (If I go there, they might say, you come here not really to negotiate or to have a dialogue because you have this mindset. That is difficult) You can get an outright rebuke there,” Duterte said.

Lila Pilipina, a group of surviving sex slaves during the Japanese occupation said that they would want to meet with President Duterte to seek his help to get justice.

Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina told Davao Today that the previous administration “completely ignored the plight of the Filipina comfort women.”

She said out of the 174 comfort women they documented across the country, 104 have passed away.

Lila Pilipinas has also recorded three cases of 11 year old girls who were made as comfort women during the World War II, the youngest in their records, said Extremadura.

“Almost all the Lolas have the same case, but only in different situations and different places. Almost all their suffering is the same because in one day they were raped by 5-6 Japanese soldiers and they were still very young at that time so it is very hard for them,” she said.

“I hope this time the President will have some ears to listen to us and support us,” she said.

Duterte said that he is willing to have a dialogue with the group.

“Dialogue is very easy. Anybody is welcome there in Malacañang, it’s open to all people who would want to go there,” he said.

Duterte met with Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Davao City on Thursday, August 11, but the President did not mention if they were able to tackle the issue on “comfort women” during the meeting. (davaotoday.com)

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