Gabriela BC Statement on Duterte’s State of the Nation Address 2018

Gabriela BC stands in solidarity with Filipino women and our kababayans globally, in exposing the true conditions of our nation during President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address this July 23, 2018. In the two years he has sat in power, the changes his administration made, and continues to propose, have done nothing but heighten the intensifying oppression of women in every sector of Philippine society. We affirm that the SONA ng Bayan (People’s SONA) is an active form of the people’s desire for genuine change in the country. We join our kababayan in militantly clamouring for pro-people transformation, national democracy and just and lasting peace.

Duterte’s Fanatic Misogyny
We condemn Duterte’s violent comments and repulsive actions towards women, which include publicly assaulting a woman and calling for sexual violence against them.

On June 3, 2018, Duterte forced an overseas Filipina worker to kiss him during an official public event in South Korea. It would be wrong to describe this incident as anything remotely consensual; she was pressured by a man with power in front of a cheering audience. We must hold Duterte accountable for his misogynistic abuse of power, of which this incident is just one of many.

Before his presidential term, a video surfaced of Duterte making violent comments about Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian prison minister and missionary, at a campaign rally. Hamill was raped and murdered during a prison riot. Laughingly, Duterte said, “Was I mad because of the rape? Yes, that’s one. But, she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.” On May 26, 2017, Duterte jokingly reassured his soldiers during a speech to not worry about committing abuses in Mindanao, which is still under martial law: ““If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.” We condemn Duterte’s comments on sexual violence against women, which is a long-standing, constant, and shameful current in Philippine history.

These comments are not mere lighthearted jokes. They normalize and trivialize misogyny and sexual violence, especially in the military where these issues run unchecked and rampant. Duterte’s comments are also strategic: they give a false sense of empowerment and entitlement to his soldier followers, who will be more likely to uncritically follow him under a pretense of freedom and power as men under the fascist president. All of this is to advance and give strength to the machismo fascism that Duterte rests his presidency on.

We can observe the logical conclusion to Duterte’s so-called “jokes”. During a speech on February 13, Duterte said, “Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina so that … if there is no vagina, it would be useless.” These comments clearly reveal Duterte’s violently misogynist position on women, thinking of them as nothing more than incubators and sex objects, useful only for childbirth and the selfish pleasure of men. Whether or not this is a joke (Duterte did not elaborate on his comments further), Duterte gleefully stokes and celebrates a masculine culture of sexual violence against women, especially in the military. Duterte’s theatrics and machismo posturing are employed regularly to distract people from the real issues of the country and the rising people’s opposition against him due to extrajudicial killings, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law and big-time corruption scandals now plaguing his rule.

Patriarchy and Economic Exploitation
Patriarchal and feudal values go hand in hand, and are both entrenched in Filipino society and enforced into our consciousness. The misogyny propagated by Duterte through his violent rhetoric is only one of the many injustices Filipina women experience. Under the semi-feudal conditions of the Philippines, women perform hard agricultural labour and take care of their children and husbands at home, the latter of which is an uncompensated labour. Women have little to no access to higher education, better working conditions and opportunities, and reproductive rights. Under semi-feudalism, women are treated as commodities. Under growing capitalist conditions, women are treated no better, facing contractualization that force them to perform precarious labour for as long as possible. Contractualized workers fill the needs of permanent jobs without permanent worker rights, allowing companies like Jollibee to deny these workers higher wages, employee benefits, the right to take action against an employer for abuse through a union, and job security. As Duterte maintains the neoliberal policies of his predecessors, joblessness and poverty continue to rise not only for women but also men.

We oppose neoliberal austerity, privatization, and deregulation measures that only serve to put more money in the pockets of the wealthy from the hands of the poor and working class. We oppose contractualization for forcing workers to perform precarious labour under the threat of unemployment. We oppose the landlord class and the bureaucrat capitalists who retain semi-feudal conditions in order to oppress farmers and exploit their labour and rightful lands. Women’s issues are class issues, and we stand in solidarity with all women who are Indigenous, who are workers, who are peasant farmers, and who are poor. They fight for their lives every day.

These fighting women intimidate Duterte. Otherwise, he would have no reason to aim such fanatically violent comments towards them, or encourage violence against them. The escalation of his aggressive comments reveals that despite his best efforts to demean, disrespect, and degrade women, they continue to oppose and fight against him, against misogyny, and against their imposed role in society as commodities and sex objects. We stand in solidarity with these fighting women. We call on our allies who perform solidarity work with the Indigenous, the poor, and the working class against imperialism to strengthen their knowledge of the situation for women in the Philippines and stand in solidarity with them.

“Poverty, fascism, sexism. All of these fuel our fight for women’s rights. We fight against violence and sexism. We actively participate in the movement for change and in creating history.” – Joms Salvador


No to charter change and dictatorship.

End the oppressive and exploitative rule of the US-Duterte regime!

Onward with the struggle for genuine freedom and democracy!
Fight for a just and liberating peace!
Tama na! Sobra na! Wakasan na!

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