The controversial kiss, which came during Duterte’s meeting with members of the Filipino diaspora in South Korea on Sunday, was met with cheers at the event and condemnation by opposition politicians, women’s rights activists and social media users.
Calling it a “light moment that is very accepted in the culture of Filipinos,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told CNN affiliate CNN Philippines Monday that the kiss was “what makes the President popular among our people.”
Opponents of the outspoken, controversial leader said that it was misogynistic and an abuse of power.
Women’s rights group Gabriela condemned the spectacle as the “disgusting theatrics of a misogynist president who feels entitled to demean, humiliate or disrespect women according to his whim.”
Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros said that Duterte “acted like a feudal king who thinks that being the president is an entitlement to do anything that he pleases,” adding that “uneven power relations” meant that the kiss wasn’t an act between consenting adults.
Others defended his decision, with one social media user asserting that his actions were typical of the way Visayans — his ethnic group — joked around. Another spoke lovingly of his roguish behavior.
“He got a hug and a kiss on the lips. Wahahaha (Duterte) is so mischievous,” the Facebook user said, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines
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