Women's groups back De Lima, hit Duterte's 'sexist harassment'

MANILA, Philippines – Various women's organizations expressed their support for Senator Leila De Lima after President Rodrigo Duterte issued scathing personal attacks against her.

"[We] are angered by the sexist harassment by the current President of Senator Leila De Lima," said Jean Enriquez, the Philippine coordinator of the World March of Women who led a rally on Thursday evening, August 18. 

Enriquez said Duterte has "consistently harassed women," including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (READ: Duterte to Sereno: Want me to declare martial law?)

Duterte on Wednesday, publicly accused De Lima of being an "immoral woman" who has a "lover and driver" who accepted drug money.

The senator, in a speech delivered Thursday morning, said the President was abusing his executive powers(READ: FULL STATEMENT: De Lima responds to Duterte's attack)

Prior to the tirade against De Lima, Duterte hit Sereno for her letter raising concern over the President's public announcement of judges and other public officials tagged in the drug trade. He has since apologized to the Chief Justice.

"Such attacks by the patriarch tries to send the message that anyone who stands in the way will be disparaged, but not his co-patriarchs," said Enriquez.

Throwback to Martial Law

The protesters, composed of mothers and female leaders, also denounced the rising cases of extrajudicial killings, seen as a consequence of the Duterte administration's war against drugs.

It reminds them of the dark days of Martial Law.

"The killings are reminiscent of the early days of Martial Law, which delivered shock and awe with the targeting first of drug offenders," Enriquez said.

"We do not want our country to fall back to the dark days of the dictatorship that did not recognize the fundamental rights of its citizens."

Photo by Joel Liporada/Rappler

The women's groups also oppose the planned burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as it would "lay to waste the years of struggle of many women who fought and died during Martial Law."

Among the groups who participated were the Center for Migrant Advocacy, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific, Focus on the Global South, Foundation for Media Alternatives, I Defend Human Rights and Dignity Movement, Ladies Who Launch, Lilak, Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights Sarilaya, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Women, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, WomanHealth Philippines, Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB,  and Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality. – Rappler.com 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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