Palace: What’s in a kiss?

Jun. 05, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte kisses a married overseas Filipino worker during his meeting with Filipino community in Seoul, South Korea on June 3, 2018. (Screenshot from PTV video)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Malacañang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s onstage kiss with a married overseas Filipina worker (OFW) in Seoul, South Korea, calling it “a light moment that is very accepted in the culture of Filipinos.”

Militant women’s group Gabriela, however, is not buying it, and called the onstage kissing part of the “misogynistic culture” promoted by the President.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday night, said there was “no offended party” in the incident.

“The lady who was kissed has clearly expressed that she was honored with the kiss,” Roque said.

“I believe that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos continue to support the President and found the kiss a light moment that is very accepted in the culture of Filipinos,” he added.

The Palace official also described the kiss as a “playful act” without malice both for Bea Kim and Duterte.

On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak following his controversial onstage kiss with a Filipina while on an official visit to South Korea.

READ: On stage kiss drew flak anew for Pres. Duterte’s Seoul visit

‘Unbridled machismo’

But Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) vehemently objected Roque’s explanation on Tuesday.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said asking a woman to come onstage for a kiss to supposedly entertain the crowd isn’t part of Filipino culture.

“Rather, it forms part of the rotten misogynist culture being promoted and normalized by Duterte through his speech and actions in public events,” she added.

The militant lawmaker also pointed out that it was never about the woman consenting to the kiss.

Brosas said “it was about the highest official of the land displaying his unbridled machismo before the Filipino community and the world,” and about Duterte “using women for the fanfare to make up for his failure to uplift the status of women and migrant workers.”

“It was about the President leveraging his power to solicit a favor which the woman can impossibly refuse, all to satisfy his masculine pride and garner cheers amid declining ratings,” Brosas further said. (

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