Rodrigo Duterte asked an unidentified audience member to kiss him in exchange for a book he was handing out. (AP: PTV)
A kiss by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on a Filipino woman’s lips while on an official visit in South Korea has sparked anger and jokes, as feminists denounced what they called his “perverted way” of taunting his female critics.
- Rodrigo Duterte told the crowd the kiss is “just for fun, a gimmick”
- The woman, identified as Bea Kim, is married and was excited to see Mr Duterte in person
- Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros said the kiss was “a grave abuse of authority”
Many Filipinos, however, thought it was a harmless kiss intended to be fun.
Mr Duterte, 73, whose critics have labelled him a misogynist and say his comments are derogatory and demeaning towards women, dismissed the kiss as a “gimmick” to entertain supporters at a town hall-style meeting with overseas Filipino workers in South Korea.
Social media was abuzz with photos and videos of Mr Duterte on stage before a crowd of Filipinos on Sunday night, when he asked an unidentified audience member to kiss him in exchange for a book he was handing out.
The woman, who admitted she is married and appeared excited to see Mr Duterte in person, agreed.
Mr Duterte then told the cheering crowd of about 3,000: “Don’t take it seriously. It’s just for fun, a gimmick.”
State-run Philippine News Agency identified the woman as Bea Kim and posted a brief video interview with her on its Facebook page.
“There wasn’t malice in it,” she said.
“For me, for him, it didn’t mean anything.”
Gabriela Youth tweet: It is indeed true that the most disgusting person lives in the Palace. Gabriela Youth strongly denounces President Rodrigo Duterte for his extremely distasteful act of machismo! Duterte kissed an OFW on the lips
Mr Duterte’s controversial remarks about women include numerous jokes about rape and have incensed activists and foreigners, most notably Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former US president Bill Clinton.
But none have dented the hugely-popular leader’s domestic support.
Pauliana Christine tweet: going off twitter for a while. imma wait until that disgusting photo of duterte’s death kiss dies down. that shit is puke material
Women’s rights advocates in the Philippines recently launched an online #BabaeAko (I Am A Woman) campaign to send a message that they were not taking Mr Duterte’s “sexist” statements sitting down.
“You don’t have to kiss that woman if you want to entertain people,” said Joms Salvador, secretary-general of Gabriela Women’s Party.
“The fact that you thought that kissing the woman would entertain people … that’s something really sick.”
Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros said even though the kiss was consensual, it was a “grave abuse of authority”.
Anna Pinili, a churchgoer who considers herself a devout catholic, said Mr Duterte had good intentions, but could have handled it better.
“He should have kissed her on the cheeks instead,” she said.
Father-of-two Raymond Pascual said people were making too much of a deal of it, and he thought it was just a “simple kiss”.
Making the rounds also on social media was a spoof photo of the same kiss, but with the woman replaced by superimposed image of China’s President Xi Jinping, in an attempt to poke fun at Mr Duterte’s high regard for his Chinese counterpart.