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Rape Jokes and Public Speech in a Supposedly Democratic Philippines

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on September 6, 2018 22:15

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What should a political speech in a democratic country be?

In a perfect liberal democracy, political speeches are supposed to show the qualities of the speaker -- his grasp and understanding of the issues, logical presentation of arguments, honest use of facts and ability to inspire, unite, and empower the people.

A responsible public speech does not divide nor stoke fear; it does not hurl insults at the perceived opponents nor bully critics. Neither does a public speech denigrate women and persons with disability nor discriminate folks on the basis of their gender and race. It is just unimaginable to do so in a society that upholds reason and democratic values.

Sadly, the world we live in today is very much different from the one imagined by the framers and defenders of democracy and liberty. What we are witnessing are public speeches that are rants of despots and tyrants unfit for public office in democratic societies.

I cannot talk much about the current American president. My understanding of American politics relies heavily only on the analyses of Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert -- which is sophisticated enough. I’d rather talk about Rodrigo Duterte.

Analysing Duterte’s speech whether he speaks in English, Tagalog, Cebuano or a combination of these languages is a thing of wonder. Especially his extemporaneous speeches; they’re a series of broken sentences lacking either sense or coherence. And their content includes insults, intimidation, bullying, inaccurate information, sick jokes, and lies.

Here’s the latest example of Duterte’s off the script statement in Davao City speech on August 30, 2018: “Ingon sila nga daghang rape ang Davao. Basta daghang gwapa, daghang rape gyud na.” He was speaking in Cebuano.

The first sentence contains a grammatical error in the use of the article “ang” instead of a preposition “sa” in “… ang Davao.” The literal English translation goes, “They said that rapes abound in Davao.” The dynamic equivalence, or the not so offensive translation, would be, “They said there are many rape cases in Davao.” Notice the not so slight differences between the two translations.

And here’s the outrageous content in the second sentence: “As long as there are many women, there will be more rape cases.” The translation is a little bit toned down. The phrase “daghang rape gyud na” translates “there must be more rapes.”

Not only that he values a grammatically incoherent sentence, he twists the meanings and the nuances of his words that boggled the minds of non-Cebuano speakers. But that’s not the point I’m making. The point is: Duterte is unfit to lead a nation that upholds democratic values. Joking about rape or encouraging the rape of “beautiful women” is disconcerting and outright scary.

What baffled me, however, is the fact that his supporters are not bothered by it at all, and they defend Duterte even more by sugar-coating the poison that comes out of his mouth every time he speaks.

Insensitivity, lack of empathy, and devaluing the lives of many have characterized Duterte’s presidency. I sincerely hope this nightmare is over very soon.

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on September 6, 2018 22:15

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Source: WDSU

After staunchly defending his controversial comments on gang rape, Philippines presidential hopeful Rodrigo Duterte buckled...

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