PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will be the first to obey the so-called “Bawal Bastos” law which penalizes catcalling and other gender-based harassment in public spaces and online.
Duterte, who is known for his controversial remarks and actions toward women, signed Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act on April 17, but the the media was informed of the signing only on Monday.
“Since the President signed that law, it means that he recognizes the need for that law. Since he’s the Chief enforcer of all the laws in the Philippines, he’ll be the first one to obey that (new) law,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing Tuesday.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, also asserted that the President never intends to offend women with his sexist jokes.
“He never was bastos. When he cracks jokes, it was intended to make people laugh. Never to offend. If you will just listen to the jokes of the President, talagang matatawa ka e. Hindi naman bastos,” he said.
The Palace official then explained that under the new law, the “offended party must be offended personally by an offender.”
“That particular law is penal in nature, meaning criminal in nature. In other words, the subject offended party must be offended personally by an offender,” he said.
“Pero kung general na nagkukwento mao-offend ka, paano mo sasabihin na ikaw ang tinutukoy nun? May problema ka doon,” he added.
Duterte has been criticized for his sexist jokes about women and rape. He recently drew the ire of women’s rights groups and some lawmakers for kissing a married Filipino woman in South Korea.
The President also publicly claimed he “touched” his maid when he was younger and has ordered troops to shoot female rebels in the vagina.
Despite public condemnation, Duterte had defended his misogynistic remarks as part of his freedom of expression.
Among Duterte’s frequent targets is Senator Leila De Lima, whom he also publicly insulted. He even threatened to release to the public her supposed lewd video.
Asked if this is a case for “Bawal Bastos” law, Panelo said: “I don’t think that’s a crime.”