Duterte on comfort woman statue: Not policy to antagonize other nations
DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he did not have any hand in the removal of the statue of a comfort woman on Roxas Boulevard in Manila on Saturday but hinted that he favored it.
On Saturday, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) tore down the bronze statue of a blindfolded, mourning woman in traditional Filipiniana gown erected there less than five months ago, which the Japanese foreign ministry had raised a howl against.
“Whose initiative was it? I really do not know. I don’t even know that it exists,” President Duterte said when asked about the tearing down of the statue.
He then went on to say that the statue “has created somehow a bad — you know.”
He said it would not have created such a fuss if it was placed on a private property.
“If you want to place in a private property, fine. But do not use (public land),” he said.
Duterte said as far as he was concerned, the issue of comfort women had long been settled.
“The Japanese has paid early for that. The reparation started many years ago. So let us not make insults anymore. But if there is what you would call a memorial for an injustice committed at one time, it’s all right,” he said.
“But do not use — it is not the policy of government to antagonize other nations. But if is erected in a private property, fine. We will honor it. And the Japanese government and people would understand it that there is democracy here, freedom of expression is very important,” Duterte added.
He said putting up the statue in a public area would give the impression it had the blessing of the government.
“It’s painful to always remind…and you start to imagine how they were treated badly. But Japan has apologized to the Filipinos. And they have certainly made much more than… in terms of reparation,” he added.
He said the memorial he had in mind was similar to the one he had ordered constructed in Tugbok district here.
“There’s one in Tugbok. There’s a Japanese shrine there. I built it. And what does it say? To those Japanese who never went back, who did not make it back home, this is a memorial,” he said. /je
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