President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday publicly flirted with a town mayor of Bohol he called “beautiful,” saying he would grab her underwear “even until the garter snaps.”
Speaking at a campaign rally for his longtime aide and former Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, who is running for governor of Bohol, the President openly admired the beauty of host town Garcia Hernandez Mayor Tita V. Baja-Gallantes.
“You are truly beautiful. If it were me, why would I ever break up with you?” Duterte said from the podium, alluding to the fact that Baja-Gallantes is separated from her husband.
“I will really grab and hold on to your panty if you try to leave, even until the garter snaps. You’re just too beautiful,” the President added.
While women’s rights group Gabriela called the President’s remarks “lewd” and “putrid,” Baja-Gallantes clarified to ABS-CBN news on Friday that she was not offended by them, and understood that Duterte was merely joking.
“It was just clearly a joke. Fifteen years in public service, I’m not easily affected,” she told ABS-CBN in a phone interview.
Baja-Gallentes said she does not see “any bad interpretation with those remarks.”
“My 100 percent support us to President Duterte,” she added.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President was only joking and people were “expecting him to do it.”
“Even the girl kept laughing because she knows the President. He was just being funny,” Panelo said in Filipino.
The President was previously married to Elizabeth Zimmerman, with whom he had three children, including Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Currently, Duterte lives with his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña, the mother of his youngest child Veronica.
“The mayor asked me today, ‘Why did you come here? Is it because of your love for the people of Bohol?’ That’s one of the reasons, ma’am... First, she said that she’s the mother of your municipality. Then she said that I am the father of the nation,” Duterte said in Bohol.
“Actually, I’m not trying to pull your leg. But the truth is, from what I’ve heard, if I may allow to say it in public and it will not offend you, you and your husband are separated,” he claimed.
Throughout the speech, Duterte then carried on with his teasing words toward the mayor.
“Can you run away with me? You have children, don’t you the mayor? How many children do you have? I have three — four. I have four but they’re all grown up already, so I don’t have a problem there anymore,” he said.
The President even quipped that he would let his former top aide Christopher “Bong” Go to take care of Avanceña while as he would arrange a date with Baja-Gallantes.
“Please take care of my wife while I’m away. I am here in Bohol to play. To play the game of love,” he said.
“Ma’am is frowning already. She’s probably thinking, ‘F*** y** Duterte if you don’t fulfill your promise, you better watch out or else I’ll have you assassinated by my police,” he joked.
Even though he lives under the same roof with Avanceña, the President revealed he still searches for a partner. He even divulged that Zimmerman’s “attitude” to this arrangement caused their separation.
“Don’t underestimate a German. It’s not just the features, but their attitude, the attitude of a German. I was no longer surprised when she threw a tantrum like Hitler. Dangerous,” he said.
“That’s just one example. I really surrendered. I can’t do it. I searched for another partner. But even until now, I am still searching, ma’am. What’s the problem with that?” he continued, stressing it is “better look for someone who has a job.”
Before he ended his speech, the Chief Executive told the public he has done his part of the campaign, stressing the need to attend a more important task.
“So, I think I have complied with my duty to you now. Tonight, I’m here and I have a task to do. And this is the most important part of it... I’m talking to the mayor after this,” the President said.