Duterte thinks comfort woman statue ‘antagonizes other nations’

April 30, 2018 - 4:26 PM
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MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

While President Rodrigo Duterte thinks a memorial to more than 1,000 Filipina sex slaves during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines might “antagonize other nations,” he has previously hurled expletives at those who criticized him.

“We can place it somewhere else. If you want to place it in a private property, fine. Insofar as I am concerned, tapos na iyan (that’s over),” President Rodrigo Duterte said defending the removal.

“The Japanese have paid dearly for that. The reparation started many years ago. Let us not insult them. It is not the policy of the government to antagonize other nations,” he added.

The DPWH, however, cited a flood control project along Baywalk as the reason why the statue was removed.

Duterte’s international relations 

Recently, the Philippine ambassador to Kuwait was declared persona non grata after the embassy conducted rescue operations for Filipina domestic helpers and released a video to the public.

Kuwait said that the move was a “flagrant” breach of rules and regulations that govern diplomatic actions.

Duterte retaliated by announcing a “permanent deployment ban” of Filipinos to Kuwait.

The president also deported Giacomo Filibeck, a deputy secretary general of The Party of European Socialists, for violating the Philippines’ immigration law.

The party insisted that Filibeck is an official tasked to investigate the extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

According to Asia Times, the deportation might have “grave economic impacts” to the Philippines since the European Parliament has threatened to temporarily withdraw its preferential trading agreement with the country.

Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, also condemned the U.S. when it released its Intelligence Community Worldwide Threat Assessment report that tagged Duterte as an “autocrat.”

As a result, the president summoned Philippines’ executive secretary Salvador Medialdea to have a meeting with U.S ambassador Sung Kim over the matter.

Japan and comfort women  

In December 2017, Japan questioned the comfort woman statue that would be placed along Roxas Boulevard.

DFA Assistant Secretary Millicent Cruz-Paredes said, “They (Japan) said they regret that despite the strong ties between the Philippines and Japan, a comfort woman statue has been suddenly erected in Manila.”

Two years ago, Japan’s Emperor Akihito visited the country and paid his respects to a WWII war memorial in honor of the Filipinos who have died.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan bow down in front of a tomb in the Heroes’ Cemetery during their visit to the Philippines. (Malacañang Photo Bureau/Benhur Arcayan)

While the gesture was symbolic, he did not state a formal apology about the plight of the comfort women.

Rep. Arlene Brosas of women’s rights group Gabriela condemned the removal saying: “We will file a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for an investigation into the removal of the statue. We are not buying the excuse that it was done to give way to a drainage improvement project.”