Robredo: 'Tasteless remarks, inappropriate advances' have no place in society

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In what should have been a somber event commemorating the third anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda's wrath, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday joked about looking at his vice president's skirt and knees, and even pointing it out to his men.

Although Vice President Leni Robredo said she is used to being a "pulutan" and the subject of his teasing, she said it was still tasteless and offensive.

"When President Duterte made inappropriate remarks, I deliberately chose to ignore these," Robredo said in a statement on Wednesday.

She said her concerns were significant — with the anniversary of Yolanda and the permanent housing challenge in Tacloban, plus the Supreme Court decision favoring the burial for former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

"There are larger and more urgent issues we confront as a nation that demand our collective attention," she said.

She said the President's remarks bothered some people — as we all rightly should.

"Tasteless remarks and inappropriate advances against women should have no place in our society. We should expect that most of all from our leaders," Robredo said.

Related: ‘Boys will be boys,’ and the other ways we perpetuate misogyny

Empowering women and their rights is one of the key areas Robredo wants to address during her six years in office.

Duterte: Comments appropriate

"It is appropriate," Duterte defended on Wednesday when asked by the media on his reaction to Robredo's statement that his remarks were inappropriate.

Seemingly baffled by the question, Duterte added, "As a matter of fact it is good so what is the problem there? What is the issue? Sexist? Slur?," then looking to the media, "Andiyan na naman ang media." [There goes the media.]

Related: Duterte: Wolf whistling not sexual, part of freedom of expression

Duterte said that he only said those statements during the commemoration to lighten the mood because he was angry at the progress of the housing situation in the places hit hardest by the supertyphoon last 2013.

"To break the ice, 'yun ang ginawa ko. So what's so special about the body of a woman or the knee of the woman na walang kalyo [without callus]? Ibig sabihin baka hindi nagsisimba. [Maybe she doesn't go to church.]," he said. 

Unbecoming of a President?

When asked by the media if his comments about his Vice President's body were not very becoming of a President, Duterte retaliated.

"Do not exact a standard for me! I will do what I say and I will say what I do. Those jokes like that is nothing," the President said.

He added there is nothing wrong with pointing out that Robredo's knees did not have scars.

Duterte challenged the media men covering his departure for Thailand and Malaysia, "You want to depict me as bastos [crude]? Have your day."

He told them to stop putting a limitation on his statements and jokes as he is a politician.

Once again hitting the media, Duterte asked, "You make a big issue about tuhod [knees]. Is that the trivialities of the media?"

 

Duterte made the remarks towards the end of his speech at the remembrance ceremony for Yolanda victims in Tacloban, Leyte.

During his speech, he said Robredo's skirts during Cabinet meetings were "shorter than usual."

"Si Ma'am Leni, medyo shorter than usual 'yung damit. Siguro nahalata ng protocol officer, sige ako sa likod. Si Sonny Dominguez naman, 'dito tayo,' sabi ko. 'Tignan mo 'yung tuhod ni...," Duterte then mimics Robredo pulling down her skirt to cover her legs.

[Translation: Ma'am Leni's clothes are shorter than usual. I guess the protocol officer noticed what I was doing at the back. I told Sonny Dominguez, "let's stay here. Look at the knees of..."]

He added Robredo then faced the other way so Duterte said he lost the "view."

Related: Women's rights groups file complaint vs. Duterte