He never thought it was a joke. These words were the sentiment resented by a group of fishermen headed by Carlo Montehermozo, the fisherman who asked then-Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte during the 2016 presidential election debate on his stance on the West Philippine Sea after the president said his campaign promise to go to the disputed territories as a pure joke and called who believed him "stupid."
Montehermozo, a Pangasinan native who admittedly voted Duterte out of his strong remark, said that his group naturally felt bad to hear Duterte. According to him, "He is also a joke as our president."
When asked if he will vote for another Duterte in next year's presidential election, Montehermozo said in Filipino: "Maybe another candidate, another president."
But it was not the first time that the president was glared out of the spotlight over a tasteless statement that heavily injured his bid for the highest post of the land. In 2016, Duterte came under fire after a recorded video of him saying some controversial words went viral.
In a one-minute YouTube clip of his campaign sortie in Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City, Duterte narrated against a group of inmates who had raped several women, including an Australian lay minister, who caught the politician's eye.
The transcript of the one-minute video clip goes:
"Nirape nila lahat ng mga babae so 'yung unang asolte, kasi nagretreat sila, naiwan yung ginawa nilang cover, ang isa doon yung layminister na Australyana. Tsk, problema na ito. Pag labas, edi binalot. Tiningnan ko yung mukha, 'tangina parang artista sa America na maganda. Putangina, sayang ito. Ang nagpasok sa isip ko, nirape nila, pinagpilahan nila doon. Nagalit ako kasi nirape, oo isa rin 'yun. Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang."
(All the women were raped so during the first assault, because they retreated, the bodies they used as a cover, one of them was the corpse of the Australian woman lay minister. Tsk, this is a problem. When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son of a bitch, what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.)
The Gabriela National Alliance of Women condemned Duterte's declarations, saying rape is a serious crime not just against women but against humanity, and urged him to apologize. Duterte's presidential rivals also denounced the joke.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Commission on Women said, "Trivializing rape through jokes hurts persons who are suffering or may have suffered from the trauma of rape. It also hurts their families and workers who assist victims-survivors who directly see the repercussions of the crime. Rape should never be made a laughing matter; neither should it be used to threaten someone."
Duterte seemingly referred to the 1989 hostage by Felipe Pugoy, an inmate of the Davao City Police Office, when 17 missionaries were held for almost 48 hours, including the Australian woman Jacqueline Hamill, who the then-local chief executive pointed.
This photo taken on August 15, 1989, by former Inquirer chief photographer Boy Cabrido shows Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill and other hostages used as human shields by armed inmates at the Metrodiscom detention center in Camp Leonor in Davao City. Photo by Boy Cabrido/Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Hamill, a 36-year-old Sydney-based Christian City Church missionary who had been in the country for only a month, was among the five hostages and 15 inmates killed in a crossfire between the hostage-takers and the authorities.
The assault came five hours after the prisoners seized the missionaries who conducted a worship service inside the jail. After the gathering, the group served the food, but most inmates refused the food and returned to their cells.
A certain "Aldan" asked for extra food apparently for a soldier's family within the prison's vicinity, but he returned carrying a rifle and a strip of bullets. When the convicts found out the situation, they immediately ran out of their rooms and grabbed the hostages.
Pastor Jamuel Ducurne was the first hostage released by Felipe Pugoy, one of the siege leaders, followed by hostage Shirley Ensoy.
Over the next 48 hours, the captives demanded to speak with Speaker Ramon Mitra and Senator Nina Rasul, but they both declined, saying military negotiators should deal with the situation.
Soldiers and police surrounded the Davao Metropolitan District Command Center (Davao Metrodiscom) compound. Snipers placed themselves on the roofs of nearby establishments.
Civilian negotiators composed of Davao Rep. Jesus Dureza, Justice Undersecretary Silvestre Bello III, AFP Southern Mindanao Regional Commander Brigadier General Mariano Baccay, Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas, and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte discussed to the hostage-takers, who asked their transfer to Manila.
The deadline lapsed, failing to meet the prisoners' demands. The negotiators sought an extension, which the hostage-takers gave. They also asked negotiators for a bus going to Manila. At this moment, all of the female hostages had already been raped by the group, including Hamill.
The next morning, when the hostage-takers decided to leave the prison compound with their hostages being the human shields, shots were fired. Several hostages were able to escape while others fell and were brought back to the prison. The military decided to attack the prison when they found out that Hamill's throat had been slashed, and the captives executed some other hostages.
Aside from Hamill, a nine-year-old boy hostage was also killed, although the authorities did not include his name in the initial list of casualties.
The hostage-taking of Protestant members was not the first instance in the region within that year. Four months before the incident, Pugoy, together with former Philippine Air Force soldier Mohammad Nasser Samparini, had taken 14 prison employees as their captive at the Davao Penal Colony in Panabo City, Davao del Norte. The hostage-takers were detained in the colony due to various offenses.
When the prisoners tried to escape with a jeepney, the Philippine constabulary blocked the group 120 kilometers from the prison with its helicopters. The hostage-takers demanded a plane en route to Manila to contact then-President Corazon Aquino and request a transfer from the Davao Penal Colony to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City due to the alleged mistreatment by prison officials. Both parties agreed to continue the negotiations in Davao City.
The hostage drama was resolved after 13 of the inmates released their hostages. Pugoy and a certain Ricardo Navarro remained at large with their hostages but were eventually arrested. Most of the prisoners were brought to Davao Metrodiscom. The authorities denied the prisoners' group's demand for relocation to the National Penitentiary due to the charges filed against them by their former hostages.
The Senate investigated possible lapses in the treatment of the incident. The defense committee headed by then-Senator Ernesto Maceda found faulty were the inadequacy of training and readiness of civilian negotiators in managing the conflict and the shoot-to-kill order given to the assault team. Nonetheless, no charges were filed against the negotiating team and the assault and rescue teams, despite the casualties.
Meanwhile, then-Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans said that soldiers might have shot Hamill during an escape attempt, but then-Presidential spokesman Adolfo Azcuna believes that the military did not fail.
A medical examination described a gunshot wound near the collarbone as the cause of Hamill's death, contradicting early reports that she died due to a slashed throat. The doctors assumed that Hamill was killed during an attempted escape of the prisoners.
During the encounter between the authorities and the prisoners, Major Nonito Serrano saw Hamill wounded and took her to an adjacent government building. A Red Cross ambulance brought Hamill to the Davao Doctors Hospital, but she was declared dead on arrival.
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