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"Walang masama diyan": Roque brushes off criticisms on Duterte's attempt to touch female helper in birthday video

By Bim Santos Published Mar 29, 2021 7:30 pm

Malacanang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte from criticisms over his birthday video that circulated on social media showing him trying to grab the groin of the woman holding his birthday cake.

In a press briefing today, March 29, palace spokesperson Harry Roque slammed those criticizing the gesture as "utak-talangka."

Roque said there was nothing wrong in what the President did as he is known to be playful, and his partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña was even in the room.

In the video, Duterte can be seen sitting on a chair as the female help aproaches him while holding a small cake with a lit candle on her hands. At one point, Duterte can be seen quickly trying to touch the woman in her private area, causing the latter to quickly step back.

Screenshot from phone video showing Duterte at his 76th birthday celebration

"Yung sinasabing panghihipo, eh matagal na niyang kasambahay yun eh. Alam mo naman talagang palabiro ang ating presidente pero wala pong malisya yun dahil nakaharap naman po doon si Mam Honeylet," Roque said in his televised press briefing.

"Ang konteksto po niyan malapit po ang relasyon ng presidente, nakikipagbiruan sa kaniyang kaarawan kaya wala pong masama diyan. But of course kahit anong katotohanan ay yung kritiko ni presidente ay hindi titigil kaya ganiyan talaga yan. It’s not bad, it’s not wrong, but that’s expected of them," said Roque.

Roque added that if anyone should complain, it should not be critics but the househelp in the video.

The incident is just one in a growing list of Duterte's controversial actions and remarks toward women, that the Palace has time and again defended.

In 2018, Duterte even told a large crowd in Mindanao that he molested their maid when he was a teenager.

He also made rape jokes in the past, which the Palace has said was just part of his playful nature.

Duterte has also questioned the capacity of women leaders, saying last January that the Philippine presidency is not a job for women.