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Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

And that’s the truth


YESTERDAY, I got a call from an important, nationwide government agency inviting me to be part of an all-woman team to draft a statement condemning Mayor Duterte’s now infamous “rape joke” about the Australian woman Jacqueline Hammil who was raped and slain while doing her missionary work in a Davao prison in 1989. The caller said the statement should emphasize the dignity of women to which Duterte’s words were an affront. For the record I will repeat the quote that has gone viral and for which Duterte adamantly refuses to apologize:

Nirape nila lahat ng mga babae so ‘yung unang asolte, kasi nagretreat sila, naiwan yung ginawa nilang cover, ang isa doon yung layminister na Australyana. Tsk, problema na ito. Pag labas, edi binalot. Tiningnan ko yung mukha, ‘tangina parang artista sa America na maganda. Putangina, sayang ito. Ang nagpasok sa isip ko, nirape nila, pinagpilahan nila doon. Nagalit ako kasi nirape, oo isa rin ‘yun . Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang.” (All the women were raped so during the first assault, because they retreated, the bodies they used as a cover, one of them was the corpse of the Australian woman lay minister. Tsk, this is a problem. When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son of a bitch, what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.)

I told the caller the issue is not just about the dignity of women, but more seriously about disrespect for the dead.  It was bad enough that a missionary was raped and got her throat slashed; the mayor had to trivialize the matter by an insensitive comment.  He rubbed salt on the wound. And continues to do so not only by refusing to apologize but also by slamming or making fun of his critics (including the bishops), and standing his ground, saying “This is who I am; no one can tell me to apologize if I don’t feel like it.”

Duterte is the perfect example of an old saying:  “Siya na ang kumuha ng bato para ipukpok sa ulo niya.” This saying echoes an idiom that goes: Give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself—which means if you give an ill-behaved person the freedom to behave badly, eventually he will destroy himself.

Duterte has been extremely outspoken about himself from even before he announced his presidential candidacy. He is a womanizer and killer, and proud of it. He claims he kills bad people in order to protect innocent people, and he wants this for the whole country. (If you missed the earlier clips of his interviews and campaign speeches, just Google “Duterte quotes” and you’ll get 523,000 entries in 0.50 seconds).

So Duterte is just being true to form by this latest “slip of the tongue”.  He’s getting worse by the day, but why is he rating high in the surveys?  What we ought to find more disturbing in the viral video is the way the people around him then cheered and hooted over his tasteless joke. And the fierce defense of Duterte followers in social media. It ought to show us how sick our society has become.

I won’t condemn Duterte, but I won’t vote for him either. More than either condemnation or vote, what Duterte needs is maximum tolerance and Christian understanding of the man he has become. I will not say he is sick, but I am certain he is wounded.  (Let that be Wounded with a capital W).  Despite his braggadocio he is craving approval and attention—a continuation of the admiration and adulation he has received from his constituents.

Being hailed as the Alpha Male of Davao for 22 years was his opium, and his is not quite prepared to detach from this addiction—now he wants to be Alpha Male of the whole country. If he can kill a rape victim twice with his irresponsible and insensitive words, what will he say next? But as I said, Duterte is wounded, and the wounded need our prayers to be healed. It is not a coincidence that this is all happening in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And that’s the truth.


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