Home / public opinions / Feminist Defends Duterte: Bold Vision for Country is Seismic Opportunity

President-elect Rody Duterte during the Presidential Debate.Image from ABiaS-CBN.

President-elect Rody Duterte during the Presidential Debate.Image from ABiaS-CBN.

Manny Piñol posted in his Facebook page saying that Irene Santiago, a feminist, is defending incoming President Duterte. His title goes: ‘BOLD VISION FOR COUNTRY IS A SEISMIC OPPORTUNITY’

In Piñol post he included Kristine Angeli Sabllo recent article from Philippine Daily Inquirer about Irene Santiago’s thoughts for President-elect Duterte. Irene Santiago is member of a women’s group previously nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, and a lead convenor of global peace initiative Women Seriously. Santiago said she can handle Duterte’s foulmouth.

In Piñol’s Facebook post, the title of which is derived from Irene Santiago’s description of Duterte’s presidency, SEISMIC means “of great importance” or “an event with a huge impact”. If seismic data or activities studied by seismologists is used to predict the probable intensity of an earthquake, here Santiago refers to Duterte’s presidency as seismic because the country will figuratively have to undergo a lot earth shaking before it can stabilize.

So whether there will be massive conflicts between the status quo and the change, it will be the benefit of the country.

Irene Santiago also said that even though Duterte is a male chauvinist, he protects and preserve well the security and welfare of women.

Here are excerpts of Sabllo’s article from PDI:

A leading feminist on Monday said President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was a “product of the sexist culture” in the Philippines but this didn’t mean that women should not support him.

Irene Santiago, lead convenor of the global peace initiative Women Seriously and a member of a group of women previously nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, told Inquirer.net on Monday that Duterte “is very much a product of the sexist culture of this country.”

Duterte has been criticized for his treatment of women. He kissed, hugged and had women sit on his lap during the presidential campaign. He joked about missing out on raping an Australian missionary who was killed. Recently, he received more flak for whistling at a woman reporter asking him a question during a press briefing.

He calls her ‘ma’am’

“Patriarchy is alive and well. Looking at his Cabinet, (there are a lot of) men, although he is comfortable around women who lead and who manage,” Santiago, who is well-known to Duterte and whom he calls “ma’am,” said.

Santiago, who is based in this city, said women were not part of Duterte’s inner circle perhaps because they “can’t talk the way they want to talk” when women are around.

She described the patriarchal system as “male-dominated, male-centered, male-identified. And there’s an obsession, obsessive need to control by men.”

Benefits for women

“He’s a work in progress… it’s not like I’m willing to live with that. That’s different. (But) I’m willing to work with that,” she said.

Santiago said that despite Duterte’s “outrageous” statements, people still support him.
“Why do you support him (people ask me). And I say, because of the evidence of his work,” she said. “There are things that are done in Davao City that are not done in any other city—policies and procedures, benefits for women you can’t find anywhere else.”

As an example, she narrated the experience of a neighbor who was raped and beaten. The city paid for her new jaw and the perpetrator is in jail.

‘Seismic opportunity’

“There is counseling for her. If she needs one there’s a bunch of lawyers who are paid for by the city,” Santiago said.

Nevertheless, she said, women will have to “work with him” on his language and behavior.

She said she once asked herself if she was willing to support somebody like Duterte who used foul language.

She said she was like Leonor Briones and Judy Taguiwalo, incoming members of Duterte’s Cabinet.

“Why am I doing this? Because here is a seismic opportunity. I think this is of seismic proportions,” she said. “He is so bold. His vision for this country is so bold vis-a-vis social justice.”

Her advice to Duterte? “Just work on yourself. We can work on your mouth. But your heart is where it is. We waited for that kind of heart for a long time. Just be yourself and we’re all here to help you.”


About the author: John Fontane


A cyclist and classic car enthusiast, John Fontane loves the movies, rock music, visual arts and the World Wide Web. He is a contributor for Cebu and Davao blog.


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