Today marked Duterte’s last state of the nation address. We’re finally near the end, folks! As tiring and exhausting as it was to listen to his speech, we can at least breathe easy knowing that it’s the last.
For his last SONA, the president decided to make it less about “visions but more remembrances” of his stint, which meant we had to sit through him talk about long lines to get passports, how long it’s been since he went to America (10 years, apparently), and the etymology of the word barrio before he finally started talking about the pandemic two hours into the speech. And, like all his other speeches, it was filled with many insensitive and nonsensical remarks, with him pushing for “free legal assistance” for “AFP and PNP officers [and] enlisted personnel to help them from charges arising from incidents related to the performance of official duty” (because we haven’t seen officers both here and abroad abuse their power both on and off duty), calling to “destroy communist forces” and shot dead a number of people, as well as fully admitting to coercing, intimidating, and bribing drug lords, pushers, and users during his stint as Davao mayor. We decided to compile the most sexist ad libs he said.
Jabs at the teleprompter
Most of the sexist jabs he said at today’s SONA were directed towards the teleprompter operator. Early on into the speech, he stops to ask the teleprompter’s gender and says that if it were a woman, he’d meet them later to embrace them. “Lalake ba sila o babae? Kagabi ‘yung mga babae. O, sabihan n’yo sila makipagkita kami mamaya. I will embrace them for their punctuality in operating this strange machine that gives you the speech.” Gross.
“I’m not sexist, I’m just saying the truth”
Any time someone starts a sentence with “I’m not sexist,” be prepared to hear some bullsh*t. This time, the president said that when he paused the speech and then remarked that the politicians listening to him probably didn’t have any other appointments after the SONA—unless they were going to see a woman. “Kung nagmamadali talaga, halos tumatakbo, babae ‘yan. Kung naglalakad lang nang natural, medyo less important ‘yan.”
The assumption here, of course, is that these women aren’t the wives but the mistresses of the politicians. Great, normalize cheating culture and refer to all politicians as men in one go.
This was particularly egregious because this was in the middle of him once again pushing the drug war agenda (as he was doing throughout most of the speech).
Exploited rape narratives to justify the drug war
Near the end of the SONA, after finally talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, the president went back to talking about the drug war. This time, he did this by describing the fear that women feel when crossing streets and recounted a story of a woman getting abducted, raped, and killed by construction workers. That’s why he’s so mad at drug users, he said.
He is using a very real thing (the prevalence of rape culture in the Philippines) to push another narrative (drug users are bad) to further his agenda (the drug war). But drug users existing isn’t why rape is an existing problem in the country. Rapists will still rape women if they weren’t on drugs.
The prevalence of rape in this country is the fault of our patriarchal, sexist society that allows rape. Our culture allows for rape to happen. This is the same culture that Duterte reinforces by saying rape jokes and sexist jabs, which demean women. So, you know, if he’s so mad about women being raped and killed, he needs to look in the mirror.