Add another woman to the President’s growing “hate list.”
Sister Patricia Anne Fox, 71, is the latest woman to earn Mr. Duterte’s ire, for alleged “disorderly conduct” and for “badmouthing” the country. He claimed that “Sister Pat,” as her friends and supporters call her, and who hails from Australia, had made remarks critical of his administration, adding that these “violated” Philippine sovereignty.
In a tone underscored by rage and contempt, the President addressed Sister Pat directly: “Ikaw, madre (You, nun),” a form of address that drips of disrespect and rudeness, “why don’t you criticize your own government, the way you handled the refugees hungry and dying, and you turned them back to the open sea. Bakit hindi ka magyakyak doon (Why don’t you keep yakking on it)?”
Well, certainly the Australian government’s response to the Rohingya refugees is worthy of withering criticism. I’m sure if Sister Pat had been asked about it publicly, she would have had some sharp words for her government. But that is beside the point.
For now, Sister Pat is free after being “invited” to the Bureau of Immigration and enduring a nearly 24-hour interrogation. But it turns out that no formal charges have been filed against her, since she holds a valid missionary visa and had not violated any immigration laws. The threat of deportation, though, still hangs over her head. But seeing photos and TV footage of her—frail and certainly no threat to public safety—one wonders what precisely this missionary, who has lived with the poor, the landless and the disenfranchised among us, has done to merit such presidential ire.
As I said, Sister Pat is just the latest woman to join the P-Duts “hit list” (let’s hope that’s just metaphorical).
She joins an illustrious roster of women who’ve found the “balls” to stand up to the President. On top of the list is Vice President Leni Robredo who now must deal with sly machinations in the election protest filed against her. Then there’s Chief Justice (on leave) Maria Lourdes Sereno, who must wade through the legal quagmire of a quo warranto petition as well as the threat of impeachment.
Let’s not forget, of course, Mr. Duterte’s first “political” victim, Sen. Leila de Lima, who’s been held in solitary confinement for more than a year without benefit of a trial and only after public hearings that laid bare even the most intimate details of her private life.
Then there’s Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales who was likewise facing threats of an impeachment, though apparently, the plan was abandoned since she was near retirement. Former Commission on Higher Education chair Patricia Licuanan enjoyed a fixed term but in the face of pressure from Malacañang, chose to walk away from the CHEd which she was leaving in a few months anyway.
There are also countless women and children—mostly urban poor but also lumad (indigenous peoples) living in resource-rich lands—who have died either as direct victims or, to use that unpalatable term, as collateral damage in the course of the war on drugs and the land-grabbing campaign in the guise of antiterrorism. This last group, by the way, makes up precisely the focus of Sister Pat’s decades-long work in the country.
To be sure, there are men, too, among the President’s black list. But women who’ve come under his scrutiny seem to be subjected to much more intense criticism and are often attacked on the basis of their gender, their physical attributes, their personal lives, and even their professions (“Ikaw, madre”).
His tirades against women are not confined to just performance in office or threats to his hold on power. The women in his sights seem to have violated, for him, deeply held expectations about the “proper” behavior of women, including keeping their peace, being subservient to men in higher positions, and showing proper respect to the male of the species.
During his campaign and the many times he betrayed his misogyny and contempt for women, manifested not just in hate speech but even in behavior, we wondered how this would impact on the nation’s life. Now we are getting the answers.
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