When a presidential candidate made a ‘joke’ and it was heard round the world

A screenshot of the video posted on Youtube

If you follow Philippine politics, you know what this ‘joke’ is about.

There is no world, no circumstance, where a statement about rape is something we can laugh at.

Rappler has a story about this video which I’m also embedding here:

Was I surprised when I saw this video? To be honest, I was not.

I wasn’t surprised because I’ve heard Mr. Duterte call another presidential candidate Mar Roxas “bakla” (you can watch an ABS-CBN report here), or that he once cursed the Pope (bleeped in a report by ABS-CBN report here, you can read his lips).

By now, we all know he is ill-tempered. In his own words, he made that statement about rape in the heat of anger.

I wasn’t surprised by this statement but it doesn’t mean I’m ok with it.

When Mr. Duterte made that statement that the “mayor should have been first,” people laughed and cheered as if it was funny. That to me is very disturbing (I can’t even stress how disturbing). I wished that the video captured the reaction of other members of the audience when that statement was made, especially those of women, daughters, fathers, brothers and sons. I really want to understand how anyone would ever find that statement funny.

Rape is something that we should never ever take lightly. In the 90s, movies about rape and massacres were being produced in the Philippines and while I didn’t see those films, trailers on TV were enough to give me the chills. I could not imagine how it must feel for rape victims. I would not even dare describe whatever I think they feel or felt because it would be an injustice to what they have been through.

There is no world, no circumstance, where a statement about rape is something we can laugh at.

Mr. Duterte offers himself to the Filipino people as the real deal, “what you see is what you get.” I actually admire him for that. The former Davao City mayor dresses and acts like an average Filipino. No fancy anything, no b******t.

But Sir, with all due respect, you are running for the most crucial and important position in our country and I’d like to think that our people deserves a man who would think twice about a statement he’s about to make, and the effects it can have.

Some of your supporters say that we have to take the good with the bad and that they’d rather have a bad mouth than a bad government.

Screenshot from Facebook

But, I believe that offering your service to the Filipino people means you will have to make sacrifices: which means that sometimes, you will have to do things out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, you will have to think twice about what you’re going to say because it can have lasting effects not on one person alone, but to a nation. Sometimes, you need not say something because “it was in the heat of the moment.”

To be fair, this reminder is for all candidates, not just Mr. Duterte.

In the next six years, a country will look up to you, young men and women will emulate what you do. Do we really want a nation of people making uncalled-for statements because it was in the heat of moment? I personally don’t.

If you watch Homeland, the opening credits play a dialogue between CIA agents Saul Berenson and Carrie Mathison referring to the 9/11 World Trade Center bombing and it goes like this:

Carrie: I missed something once before. I won’t, I can’t let that happen again.
Saul: It was ten years ago. Everyone missed something that day.
Carrie: Everyone’s not me.

Not everyone’s like you sir.

Sir, words inflict pain that lasts, and come to think of it, rearrange the letters and you end up with sword.

While you present yourself as the real deal, “what you see is what you get,” I also ask you to maybe think twice when you’re making a statement because it’s possible that you may not be given a chance to explain next time.

And just so we’re clear, there is no world, no circumstance, where a statement about rape is something we can laugh at.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions here are entirely my own and should not be interpreted as that of my former and future employers or organizations I’m associated with.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.