Karapatan denounces Duterte’s hypocrisy with his Women’s Month statement

Karapatan denounces the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte on the National Women’s Month celebration calling this “an outright hypocrisy of the most prominent macho-fascist in the Philippines.”

“With his various pronouncements promoting sexism and misogyny, malicious charges in reprisal against women critics including those in the media and political opposition, trumped up charges, threats and killings of women human rights defenders, and his lead role in constricting civic space and worsening the climate of impunity in the country, his galling statements regarding women empowerment in the Philippines are empty rhetoric,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay said at least 55 women human rights defenders have been killed since July 2016, when Pres. Duterte assumed office, while 116 women political prisoners remain languishing in detention facilities in the country slapped with trumped up charges. Women victims in the drug war as well as women relatives of those killed in the bloody campaign have been grappling with the loss of their loved ones and are crying out for justice.

On March 7, eve of International Women’s Day, Karapatan paralegal Nimfa Lanzanas and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) - Laguna spokesperson Elizabeth Camoral were arbitrarily arrested based on planted evidence and perjured testimonies of the police and military. Fisherfolk leader Ana Marie “Chai” Lemita - Evangelista was killed with her husband in Batangas.

Karapatan also cited the killing of woman human rights defender and Karapatan paralegal Zara Alvarez who was tagged by the Philippine government as a “terrorist” in August 2020, as well as the illegal arrest of 62-year-old senior citizen Enriqueta Guelas and 41-year-old pregnant woman Elizabeth Estilon for false charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as among the rights violations experienced by women under the Duterte administration.

The President, in his statement, claimed that “concrete, sustainable and inclusive actions” were taken by his government in creating an environment where “women’s rights are respected and their contributions to society are recognized.”

“Any amount of language engineering by the President’s spin doctors to make it appear that he is a credible women’s rights advocate does not and cannot dispel his notoriety in undermining women’s rights in the country,” Palabay averred.

“We call on all women to stand up, and collectively fight for gender equality, justice, and women’s rights and human rights, in the context of an authoritarian regime,” she concluded.