Malacañang defended President Rodrigo R. Duterte from a remark made by Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Harald Fries saying the Chief Executive’s remarks about women and rape jokes were not funny.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Fries should judge Duterte by his actions rather than his words, which he claimed, were accepted by local audiences.
“The Palace understands the sentiments of the Ambassador of Sweden to the Philippines Harald Fries,” Panelo said in a statement on Wednesday night.
“We have to see the context of the President’s jokes, where these were told before local audience, which may not have the same acceptance with a foreign audience,” he added.
Panelo then emphasized how the President had shown several times that he placed great importance on ensuring the protection of human rights of women.
“The good Sweden Envoy should judge the President, not by his words but by his deeds,” Panelo said.
“President Duterte has shown respect and admiration to women and their abilities and competencies. He has appointed numerous women to high government positions in the Cabinet and executive offices and the Judiciary,” he added.
Panelo noted that Duterte had also signed landmark pro-women pieces of legislation, including the Expanded Maternity Leave Act (R.A. 11210) which grants mothers 105 days of paid maternity leave, and the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act (R.A. 11148), which mandates the development of a strategy for the first 1,000 days of life to address the health, nutrition, and developmental problems affecting infants, young children, adolescent females, pregnant and lactating women, teenage mothers, and women of reproductive age.
Moreover, Panelo noted that it is under the Duterte administration when the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018 placed the Philippines as the most gender equal nation in Asia.
The WEF report gave the Philippines high Global Gender Gap scores in the areas of educational attainment (ranked #1), political empowerment (ranked #13), and economic participation and opportunity (ranked #14).
“These findings highlight the government’s commitment to give Filipino women the recognition that they properly deserve, particularly their contributions in the home, in the workplace, in the community, and in nation-building,” Panelo said.
Fries spoke against Duterte’s rape jokes during a forum discussing the “#RespetoNaman: A Nationwide Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence” in the Philippines.
The forum, which was inspired by the global #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, is meant to highlight issues on women and empower women to rise up against all forms of gender-based violence.