A number of leading Filipino women have signed a petition urging the organisers of Miss Universe not to host the competition in the Philippine capital of Manila in January 2017 as planned. Citing a "sexist attitude" displayed by newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, the women have said that hosting the competition in Manila would only serve as a "reward" for his "salacious comments".
The petition was shared on Facebook by Annie Serrano with a note that said it had been delivered to the Miss Universe Organising Committee on 9 October. The petition was signed by almost 60 businesswomen, lawyers and human rights experts.
"In recent months, chauvinism, brutal shaming, rape jokes and a sweeping disregard for women as persons deserving not merely of a token, but true respect, has been exhibited by the President of the Philippines with his salacious and sexist comments and treatment of female reporters and opposition figures," the petition stated. "To hold the Miss Universe Pageant in the Philippines at this time would serve as a reward of this intolerable behaviour and excuse such behaviour," Serrano wrote on Facebook on 10 October. "
Petitioners also acknowledged that while the organisers of Miss Universe were having doubts about hosting the event in Manila due to political stability concerns, they should be more concerned about the "demeaning" and "scandalous" attitude expressed by President Duterte. It warned Miss Universe organisers that hosting in the Philippines would make them privy to these "backward" government officials and set them on a course to violate the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Although the petition has gotten support from many people in the Philippines, Serrano has also received some abuse for posting the calls on Facebook. One user, Ronilo Meris, accused her of being a "selfish citizen" and urged her to take her "discounted medicine" before she writes such "immature" posts.
Meris, wrote: "You're trying to stop the growth of tourism in your country... Didn't you realise that being a senior citizen, you [are] also using all the benefits that the government is giving to you?"