Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan drew the ire of the public when she stated that catcalling is “not a form of sexual harassment” in a report by ABS-CBN news.
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized and questioned by various women’s groups and their allies for his earlier statements and views on women and relationships as a whole. Duterte earned more criticism for his misogynistic ways after he whistled at reporter Mariz Umali during a press con.
Various feminists and women’s rights advocates generally view catcalling as a highly questionable act and a form of sexual harassment. With this in mind, Ilagan’s statement came as a big surprise and she went as far as defending the President-elect’s actions by calling it “not a form of sexual harassment.”
“It’s not sexual harassment. Whistling is not a form of sexual harassment…Siguro improper lang siya na behavior under the circumstances na hindi dapat ganoon (It could be an improper behavior under the circumstances that it should not be like ‘that’)…If you are calling the attention of this reporter, you could have used the other way,” Ilagan explained.
Ilagan even excused Duterte’s behavior as something part of Visayan culture.
“We have to accept that our President is different and he is working under a cultural way of communicating. Ganoon naman talaga ang mga Bisaya (Visayans are really like ‘that’). They are sarcastic. We exaggerate. We make fun, pero accepted naman talaga (but it’s really accepted [behavior]). It’s just a manner of speaking but not the thought, it’s not the content,” Ilagan as quoted by the ABS-CBN News report.
Ilagan is a known associate and friend of the Duterte’s. The Gabriela partylist Representative ran in the last election for councilor in Davao City’s third district under the party of Duterte’s daughter Sara but lost.
Meanwhile, sister of Duterte’s running mate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and outgoing senator Pia Cayetano said that while she supports Duterte, she does not agree with his whistling.
I support the President but I don't agree w/ the whistling. RT @catzedong: do you support him wholeheartedly still?
— pia cayetano (@piacayetano) June 2, 2016
Many then hit social media to voice out their opinions about Ilagan’s statements. Netizens assumed that Ilagan’s defense of Duterte’s whistling was in line with what Gabriela, the group she represented, would also do. However, Gabriela released an official statement clarifying its firm stance on catcalling and impropriety of Duterte’s behavior. Gabriela then shared that they will be cooperating with the Duterte administration to advance women’s rights. They also invited Duterte to an upcoming Women’s Summit in Davao City.
GABRIELA CHALLENGES PRESIDENT DUTERTE TO ADVANCE WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND WELFARE IN HIS CRUSADE FOR CHANGE In the interest…
Gabriela has been very open with its criticism towards the President-elect in the past.