PDP-Laban presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte attends a forum tackling women’s agenda in Davao City on February 27 this year. (Medel V. Hernani/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY—Davao City Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte has issued a statement of apology on Tuesday, April 19 over his rape remark made in a rally.

However, Duterte, who was in Bacolod City on Monday, April 18, was quoted as saying that he won’t apologize for what he said.

Duterte said that he was clueless about the April 19 statement released by his party, PDP-Laban, causing a confusion and  begs the question if he really apologized for the rape comment he made.

On Wednesday, Duterte in a television interview admitted that the statements released by his campaign team had “passed through his hands” without going into the details.

In a statement released by his campaign team, Duterte said that he has “no intention of disrespecting our women and those who have been victims of this horrible crime. Sometimes my mouth can get the better of me.”

Seemingly unrepentant, the Davao’s tough-talking mayor asserted that he wouldn’t apologize especially if his actions were meant to defend both the “weak and defenseless” from any crime.

“I know what it can do to the victims and their families. The anguish and pain they cause. The trauma that can’t be erased. I have witnessed these myself numerous times,” he said.

Claiming that he is a man of many flaws and contradictions, Duterte assured that he can be trusted especially when it comes to “securing the lives and future of our countrymen and women.”

“You can trust me to do the right thing. I will fight for the people until my last breath,” he said.

‘Direct anger to culture of impunity’

For women’s group Gabriela, it said that while Duterte’s statements “are a clear manifestation of the culture of machismo that perpetuate violence against women,” the public outrage should be directed towards the culture of impunity and violence against women.

“Such culture of impunity is responsible for the discrimination suffered by women and push them to further vulnerability to different form of sexual abuses. It is this impunity that is responsible for the promotion and tolerance to rape culture,” Gabriela said in a statement on Wednesday, April 20.

Gabriela claims that under the Aquino administration rape cases increased by 92% while cases of domestic violence increased by 219% and sexual harassment by 136%.

“More than a hundred cases of women victims of violence involving persons in authority including elements of police and the military sought our help from 2010 -2015. It does not help that justice remains slow and the judicial system, unfriendly to women,” the group said.

“It is also under the Aquino administration that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed and thus, opened the Philippines as a playground for US troops and made Filipino women and girls as the GI’s toys that they can play with anytime during their rest and recreation,” it added.

Gabriela said it is Pres. Aquino who is “ultimately responsible for this impunity. “And such impunity will definitely continue if we allow the heir of the Daang Matuwid to succeed in this election.” Gabriela also challenged presidential candidates to promote platforms that will address poverty and violence against women.

On the other hand, woman activist, Monique Wilson said that Duterte’s action play a part in perpetuating a culture of rape.

“Mayor Duterte, rape is rape. I don’t have to tell you what that means. but you need to understand the full gravity of rape and rape culture. and where your actions play a part in perpetuating that,” Wilson said via her social media account Facebook.

“I don’t think you would accept it if that person simply tried to take the gravity of the situation away by saying he was just using “crass language” because he was “angry”. NOTHING JUSTIFIES RAPE AS A JOKE,” she wrote.

Despite the flak Duterte received over his rape slur, he pleaded to give him a chance to lead the country. “I promise to all of you that I will protect our women, children and families from the horrors and disorder of crime. I will do this even if I lose my life, my honor and even the presidency,” he said. (With a report from Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)

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