Malacañang on Sunday said it is “natural” for President Rodrigo Duterte to say that the highest government post is “not for women” if only to discourage his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, from joining the presidential race in 2022.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement in a radio interview amid criticisms that the President’s remarks are sexist.
“Ako po ay meron ding anak na babae. Tingin ko po, ang konteksto lang nyan, eh, ayaw niya kay Inday Sara ‘yung hirap na dinanas niya para maging presidente,” Roque told radio station dzBB.
“Syempre, ang mga ama, may special na lugar sa kanilang mga puso ang kanilang mga anak na babae. Natural lang po ‘yan,” he added.
The President, at the inauguration of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 in Quezon City on Thursday, claimed that his daughter is being egged on to seek the presidency in the 2022 elections.
“They are prodding my daughter to seek the presidency. I said, ‘My daughter is not running.’ I have told Inday not to run because I’ll pity her if she experiences what I had,” Duterte said in a speech.
“This (presidency) is not for women. You know, the emotional setup of a woman and a man is totally different. You will be an a*sh*le here. That is the sad story,” he added.
Duterte’s remarks did not sit well with advocates and groups pushing for gender equality, including Vice President Leni Robredo.
Robredo, speaking on her Sunday radio show, called out the president for saying females are ill-suited for the presidency, adding that he should be cautious of his remarks about women.
“We are fighting a lot for women empowerment and gender equality. But if the president says something like this, it is not helping us in our fight. It deflates the campaign,” she said in vernacular.
“Part of his responsibility is to be circumspect with his statements. He is the president. He is not an ordinary person whose statements will only be heard by those around him,” Robredo added.
The Philippines had two female presidents before, late president Corazon Aquino from 1986 to 1992 and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who later became Pampanga, 2nd District representative from 2001 to 2010.
The younger Duterte, for her part, said that she has no intention to run as the country’s next chief executive.
“He also said he did not want me to run but nothing about gender was discussed,” Duterte-Carpio was quoted by an ABS-CBN correspondent on Thursday.
This was not the first that Duterte publicly discouraged his daughter from seeking the presidency, although he has repeatedly praised her political influence.