A Malacañang official called on women on Friday to be more forgiving about President Duterte’s catcalling and sexist remarks about women, saying the country’s Chief Executive was no priest or saint.
At the “Digong’s Day for Women” event in Malacañang, Assistant Communications Secretary Marie Banaag was asked whether the President’s remarks about women, including jokes about extramarital affairs, have been good for their empowerment.
“I don’t want to be defensive about all these, but for women’s month, if we can have a forgiving heart. We voted for a President, we did not vote for a priest, we did not vote for a saint,” Banaag said.
Taking issue with catcalling was “relative,” she said.
“It depends on the person who will be hurt,” she said.
“Of course, we are not saying that everything a person says is perfect or right,” Banaag added.
Interior Undersecretary Emily Padilla said Mr. Duterte can joke about extramarital affairs because he’s not married.
Mr. Duterte’s marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman, with whom he has three children, has been annulled. The President has a new partner with whom he has one child.
Justice Assistant Secretary Aimee Neri, who worked with Mr. Duterte when he was Davao City mayor, said that beyond the President’s utterances and possibly “misinterpreted words” was a “helping hand” and a “heart that cares.”
Neri said it was only in Davao City where there was a special council to handle matters of violence against women and children.
“He does not tolerate any forms of abuses,” she said.
The event in Malacañang was intended to honor women. The guests were offered medical and dental referral cards, legal consultation, Tesda scholarships, and spa and wellness services. A tour of Malacañang Museum was also offered.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.