PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte said the removed statue symbolizing the wartime Filipino comfort woman can be relocated “somewhere else” as it has created a “bad” impression to other nations.
“If there is what you would call a memorial for injustice committed at one time, it’s all right. But do not use….It is not the policy of government to antagonize other nations,” Mr. Duterte said upon his arrival in Davao City on Sunday.
“I didn’t even know that it exists. But it has created somehow a bad, you know… You can place it somewhere else,” Mr. Duterte also said.
He noted further that “Japan has apologized to the Filipinos. And they have certainly made much more in terms of reparations.”
Japan is a leading economic partner of the Philippines.
According to a report by the Japan Times, the Japanese Embassy in Manila was notified ahead of the removal of the statue.
The statue of the blindfolded comfort woman, erected in December 2017, serves as a memorial for Filipino women who were abused by Japanese forces during their occupation of the Philippines at the time of the Pacific War.
The statue prompted headlines last January when Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda called attention to the memorial during her visit to the Philippines.
It was removed from Roxas Boulevard on Friday night to reportedly make way for a flood-control project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas said in a statement the statue was built “precisely to remind future generations and the public of what Filipina sex slaves went through under Japanese occupation. It was not meant for private viewing.”
“(The) so-called reparations form just one aspect of the demands of abused Filipinas,” Ms. Brosas said. “We need to address the historical injustice against them and counter Japan’s revisionist take on WWII history.”
Ms. Brosas said she will push for a congressional inquiry.
For her part, Rep. Emmi A. de Jesus said: “Why was the removal done in the night, apparently with the permission of the local government? Was the National Historical Commission properly notified?” — Charmaine A. Tadalan with Arjay L. Balinbin