The government as rapist
President Duterte’s speech to mark Mandaue City’s charter day last week, where he joked about rape, is even more abhorrent when considered as a whole.
It shows us a President indulging his worst instincts. (I am using the official PCOO transcript, which includes its own fair but sometimes incomplete English translations of the President’s Bisaya.) A few lowlights:
He displayed a characteristic tokenism toward government functions and the work of government functionaries. As in many other speeches, he began by mentioning his prepared address, and his disinclination to read it. “I will not read my… it’s just two pages.” Then he adds: “But I will—so that the person who wrote this won’t be offended. I will just read the last paragraph.” Cue audience laughter.
I assume the President’s speechwriters are aides he personally chose, but there is hardly any difference in his treatment of his own staff and his disdain for the government bureaucracy (which, of course, he now heads). Introducing one of his current favorites, Ed del Rosario, he says of the Bangon Marawi operation: “I just listened. I said if I were to hand this over to the bureaucracy, I said no offense intended, this will never be successful. We’ll only lose the money.” This makes sense as a campaign theme, but the Duterte administration is already two years in power; it IS the bureaucracy.
He showed a knowing, winking disregard for his own personal reputation, adding another layer to his image as gangster in chief. Let me quote the original first. “Kanang binastos gyud nga kawat ba. Kawatan man ko pero di nako na masikmura nang… Mangawat ko og babaye nga gwapa pero dili…” The official translation captures the gist: “It’s a shameless kind of stealing. I steal too but I can’t stomach that kind of… I would steal a beautiful woman.”
I would translate the President’s remarks this way: “That’s an obscene kind of stealing. I’m a thief too but I cannot stomach that… I would steal a beautiful woman but not…”
It is here, while alluding (wink, wink) to his reputation as a breaker of laws, that he introduced one of the main themes of his improvised Mandaue remarks: His claim to beautiful women.
He pointed to current examples of corruption, liberally sprinkling obscenities and highlighting facts (but not addressing concerns raised by his own people whom he had accused of corruption): the AFP Medical Center mess, the Nayong Pilipino contract, and then something new he only hinted at. He rehashed tired lessons, though his use of conditional clauses softened the impact: “Many years from now or a few years from now, or maybe a year after, if we cannot stop graft and corruption and cannot maintain law and order in this country, Philippines should never reach the level of economic progress enjoyed by Malaysia and Indonesia on the present level.” (That’s the President’s English, as transcribed.)
Then, because he remembered the adage that life is not fair, he remembered his war on the Christian God. “I have a God. But it is not the God of the priest and the itong mga obispo na mga u***.” The last phrase—“and these idiot bishops”—is not translated in the transcript.
He went on this attacking vein for about 20 paragraphs, then segued to human rights. He graphically describes the rape of a 2-year-old child, and asked: “Why a President should so be blatant and very bestial in his language? Because you asked for it.” By “you” he (for some reason) meant priests.
He then expressed a desire to violate the Constitution. “I said you’re better off choosing a dictator in the likes of Marcos. That is what I suggested. Pwede man kayong mag-succe—constitutional succession, it’s Robredo. But she cannot hack it.”
This was followed by a summary of his legacy as Davao mayor—which brings us, only a third of the way through his remarks, to his horrifying justification of Davao’s record as the city with the most number of rapes. “Ingon sila nga daghang rape ang Davao. Basta daghang gwapa, daghang rape gyud na.” My translation of this “joke”: “They say many are raped in Davao. Well, if there are many beautiful women, there are many rapes.”
This is wrong on many levels, but on reflection it is characteristic. Of the President, whose remarks are soaked in the toxins of runaway masculinity (“I have a girlfriend here. Look to your left and at your front.”) And of the Duterte administration, which governs by force, manufactured consent, grave abuse, act of obscenity: the elements of rape.
On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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