Your sex jokes are not funny

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A day before the official issuance of another Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR), President Rodrigo Duterte takes a quick flight home from the Malacañang Palace to Davao City to ‘humbly’ celebrate his birthday on March 28. On that day, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go commemorates the event by posting a greeting on Facebook, accompanied by a photo of the president in a t-shirt blowing into a single candle on top of a rice mound.

However, other images and videos, whose original posts have been deleted, began circulating online painting a more complete picture of the said celebration, which so happened to include a full-sized lechon and various other dishes. While this prompted backlash from those who felt as if the cake rice was a form of mockery to the poor, the short video of the president attempting to inappropriately reach for his househelp’s private area is one more concrete evidence to show Duterte’s disturbing antics—the kind that we should not dismiss lightly.

Over the course of his presidency, his name has been no stranger to numerous media reports on misogynistic remarks, unsolicited sexual comments, and other lewd behaviors. From joking about being angry during the 2016 election period that as the previous mayor, he was not able to rape Davao prison seige hostage Jacqueline Hamill first, to including in his speech in 2018 to shoot female guerilla fighters in the vagina, and even encouraging Bohol Mayor Tita Baja-Gallentes in a political rally in 2019 to elope with him, saying, “Why would I ever break up with you? I will really grab and hold onto your panties if you try to leave, even until the garter snaps.”

These instances are not the worst of it, there are more to count. Despite this, it seems as if Duterte shows no regard for the issue. He’s shown little to no respect for women and yet he’s rarely ever remorseful. His faithful followers in the office are always quick to retort and excuse such sexist stunts as the president is “being unapologetically himself; genuine, trying to lighten the mood, and even de-stressing.” With the laughter these ‘jokes’ bring and the public being told to simply accept the situation, he’s somehow always able to get away with making them.

Whether the Filipino people are able to brush these off as trivial matters or become accustomed to them as part of the president’s inherent qualities raises a red flag.

In the clamor for the awareness of men’s violence and harassment against women, Duterte comfortably throwing sexist remarks and exhibiting unprofessional behavior time and time again—in public, no less—makes us ponder on how immune he must feel to be exempted from that accountability. Must we continue to be tolerant, then?

Much can already be said about the influence of the president’s speech and behavior, and how many have commented that some of them promote dangerous values, the likes of police brutality and red-tagging. The same resolve should apply to condemning sexually inappropriate practices. Every article that is headlined with Duterte’s misconduct has the capability to reach more than 100 million Filipino citizens, and a consequence that may arise from it is for the people to play off such incidents as normal—and normalization of these practices is the foundation of other conducts that encourage rape culture.

On top of the question of the administration’s handling of the pandemic, we also bring to the table all the other issues that also require attention. Because while Duterte is not the last person we call out for his behavior, his image is one that holds great influence. With that said, every man, woman, and gender nonconforming individual will have to actively correct such inappropriate practices. At the end of the day, we belong in one community.

If Duterte never truly listens and continues to pull another one of his crude jokes, then may he be met with the reaction it deserves: the public’s loud condemnation.C

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