TARLAC CITY, Philippines – “A mistake,” was how presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte described his “kissing spree” in Pampanga with supporters last Friday, February 5.
“I am not the most moral person in this world. May maraming pagkakamali ako, gaya ng halik. Pero ‘yang halik, drama ‘yan. Because if you ask the media to rerun the tape sa Davao ‘yan talaga ang sakit ko,” he told Tarlaqueños on Monday, February 8.
A video taken by Rappler showed the candidate kissing women supporters on the lips. The women appeared unperturbed, with one even taking a selfie of herself being kissed.
Rody #Duterte reacts to news about his kissing, flirting with Pampanga supporters. #PHVote pic.twitter.com/6B9Rx7SfR4 — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 8, 2016
In Tarlac, his audience, many of whom were women, laughed at his retelling of the story. He explained that his flirting comes from his days as Davao City mayor. Kissing women on the cheek has become his way of being close to his constituents, he said.
“Yakap, lambing 'yan because nasanay ako sa Davao at binebeso ko. Yung ginanon ko yung babae (demonstrates hugging a woman), hindi na halik yun, drama na lang yun,” he said.
(Embracing, showing affection, I got used to that in Davao because I would kiss women on the cheek there. When I did that to the woman, that was not a kiss, only drama.)
'Focus on issues, not kissing'
He also criticized media outlets for consistently showing only his playful side without also communicating his platform and campaign promises.
“What does kissing have to do with graft and corruption? What does kissing have to do with drugs and criminality?” he said.
He emphasized that his advances should not distract from his priority when attending sorties: explaining his platform to fight crime, drugs, and corruption; and spreading economic growth in all parts of the Philippines.
Duterte's playful 'advances' to Tarlac local girl generates laughter and smiles from farming community. #PHVote pic.twitter.com/yrIujnmSFW — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 8, 2016
Asked if he would refrain from kissing women on the campaign trail, he said he would continue giving “innocent” kisses.
“That’s my character. There’s nothing wrong in kissing women. Beso-beso lang ‘yan (That’s only kissing on the cheek),” he told media.
Supporters from Tarlac don’t count his flirtatiousness against him.
“As long as single siya, wala namang problema. I think Mayor Duterte is annulled. Kung mayroon man siyang partner ngayon, as long as, dun pa naman siya umuuwi eh,” said Duterte Diehard Supporter-Tarlac member Reymike Tubay.
(As long as he’s single, there’s no problem. I think Mayor Duterte is annulled. If he has a partner, he still goes home to her.)
“Yung pagiging flirt, hindi yun makakaapekto sa pagiging lider ng pagbabago ng Pilipinas,” he added. (Being a flirt won’t affect his being the leader of change for the Philippines.)
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.