The women’s group Gabriela has expressed concern over the reactions that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s wolf-whistling has been generating.
Gabriela party-list representative Emmi De Jesus said that not only is Duterte’s wolf-whistling at GMA News Reporter and Anchor Mariz Umali during a press conference in Davao City is already objectionable, but what also worries her is how people will take such a behavior.
In an article published by GMA News Online, De Jesus expressed her concern: “The mere fact that during the conference, ang immediate reaction ng audience ay tinake siya as joke, apparent na hindi pa nagsisit-in yung consciousness na offensive ata ito kay Mariz Umali.”
De Jesus explained that the culture pertaining to how women are sexualized may still be prevalent considering that some people do not find anything wrong with the incident.
“Sa punto de bista niya at ng mga tumawa, ibig sabihin ang imprint ng kultura sa marami, kung siya ang tatanungin, walang sexual innuendo...Ang lumalabas, parang minaliit siya ng audience na nandun. Prevailing pa rin ang culture,” she added.
GMA news reporter Mariz Umali has already said that the wolf-whistling was improper, but that she does not expect the President-elect apologize for the said incident.
Gabriela’s De Jesus also said that the government must not only enact laws and ordinances protecting women, but must also help in raising awareness among citizens.
“Kaya kung gagawa ng ordinansa or batas, ‘yung patuloy na magbibigay ng proteksyon sa kababaihan at magatataas ng consciousness ng publiko. Kailangan talaga nating turuan eh ang higit na nakararami,” the party-list representative said.
It was during the time of Duterte as Mayor that Davao City passed a city ordinance protecting women.
Part of the Davao City’s Women Development Code states that cursing, whistling, or calling a woman in public with words having dirty connotations or implications is a form of sexual harassment.
Duterte’s incoming presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the wolf-whistling was just a joke. He added that the receiver of such should feel complimented.
On his part, President-elect Duterte said that he was just exercising his freedom of expression.
As a response to the incident, De Jesus said that Gabriela will continue with their advocacy to educate individuals on showing respect for women.
“We will continue to campaign for education para matuto ang marami sa atin ano ang dapat na pag-appreciate sa babae sa lipunan. Ayaw nating mangyari na may [mag]sexually harrass na lalaki, lalo na kung ito ay may hawak na kapangyarihang pampultika,” she said.