ON THE UNPRESIDENTIAL WHISTLING OF A VERY PRESIDENTIAL DUTERTE

When I watched the video of PaDi Mayor Digong Duterte's press con where he whistled apparently at Ms Mariz Umali, I felt not only uncomfortable. I was incensed. I thought Ms Umali was a random media person PaDi did not know but whistled at. But I did notice that she seemed to  enjoy a banter with PaDi and did not at all appear repulsed. I googled about her and that incident.. I discovered she issued a statement  that said in so many words that she did not take offense. She merely found his catcalling "maybe improper." I thought, "This woman is internally oppressed. How could she dismiss catcalling by someone to whom she is a stranger inoffensive? Or is it because her offender is the incoming President?"

Whether Ms. Umali was offended or not, I felt that what PaDi did was very improper. I became Mariz Umali. I felt the victimization  she could not feel. I posted a call-out on Facebook.

Next, I read my newsfeed.

There was hatred, even bloodlust, for Duterte. I could gather this from the irrationality of people's strong statements. There were voices of people stuck on May 9 unable to move on from the defeat of Roxas. You could tell from the fact that they suddenly became advocates for women's rights. I did not hear them say anything about women's rights in the past. In fact, they never reacted to that tasteless virtual sex act onstage during a birthday party of a Liberal Party stalwart. This also angered me. The Yellow Kingdom was, to them, all sunshine and, despite situations needing voices, they kept quiet. I thought, "These people, noisy as they are now, are not really speaking for women; they are using a women's issue only to advance political vendetta or promote hatred of PaDi."

And then there were people drumbeating for vigilance; they never called for vigilance before. I thought, "They were simply apathetic - or apolitical might be the politically correct word. Now, they have become politically involved." This to me is a very positive development - that the foul mouth of a President unprecedented in our history is jolting people and getting them out of political apathy. Even PaDi Mayor must be happy.

Thankfully, I could find sincere rebuke as well.

The amusing thing is that when I said on FB that PaDi should not whistle at a woman in public even if she seems not to take offense, some reacted in a way I understood to mean they thought they discovered women's rights before I did or they cared more for women than I did. I sort of ...uhmmm... got annoyed. I became historical. "Hoy, you think only your hearts bleed for women? For decades, I have been fighting for women's rights and even devote free legal services to them. Blah, blah." Then it dawned on me that they did not expect the call-out from the Dutertard that I am. Well, not every political supporter is like many supporters of the Yellow Army who condemn injustice only when it is not attributable to yellow hands. The Dutertards I know do not pay blind obeisance.

Much later on, I saw this video of Ms Umali and PaDi interacting in a private atmosphere. He was humble, friendly, and patient despite the shallowness of her questions. In fact, I felt that she was assaulting his privacy and he was not really relishing  the intrusion. But who am I to arrogate unto myself the license to squirm in discomfort on behalf of the country's incoming President?

They were on their way to dinner - the supposed future sexual harassment victim and the supposed future sexual harassment offender.

After watching the entire video, I began to see the catcalling in a different light. I got convinced that when Ms Umali said she was not offended, she was not offended. She and PaDi Mayor had a "history" before that controversial press con and that was the reason why she   took  his whistling with a grain of salt.

And so two hours ago, I said on someone's wall that in sexual harassment cases, while the nature of the act is important, so is context. Catcalling may be an act by which sexual harassment is committed, but in what context is it done? Also, sexual harassment is a subjective offense. It is not the offender's intent but the victim's feeling that is relevant. Ms Umali was not offended. Please let us not insist she was. Your feelings do not define the crime, OK? Neither does your political frustration or hatred, OK? Let us not reduce  Ms Umali into an object and take her place as the subject.

I still think Duterte should not whistle as he did. It is unpresidential. It is. Unpresidential. I do not look forward to it.

But I look forward to the presidential things he promised to do, a few of which are:

1. Bring the Lumad home;
2. Create a committee to investigate killings of journalists;
3. End PDAF and DAP;
4. Enforce simplicity among government officials;
5. Review K to 12;
6. Cleanse NLRC;
7. End contractualization;
8. Legalize medical marijuana;
9. End the drug trade;
10. Resume peace talks;
11. Appoint pro-people officials to deliver social services; and
12. Make justice accessible.


I am happy the unpresidential President has less than a month to vacate the palace and the more presidential one will take over.
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