Panelo: Duterte’s kiss with OFW like kissing grandchild, baby

Pia Ranada

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Panelo: Duterte’s kiss with OFW like kissing grandchild, baby


'That's nothing,' says Chief Presidential Counsel Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – Another Malacañang official has stepped up to defend President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial kiss.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday, June 6, that he did not see anything wrong with a fan kissing her idol, and if he were the husband of South Korea-based Filipino Bea Kim, he would not mind her kissing the Philippine leader.

“You know, my wife said it’s just like kissing an apo (grandchild), a son, a daughter, a baby. Wala naman ‘yan eh (it’s nothing),” Panelo said in an interview with Ian Esguerra on ANC.

He added that if he were the husband of the Filipina, Bea Kim, he would have no problem with Duterte’s kiss.

“If I were the husband, I would not mind my wife planting a kiss to Duterte if she [is] really a fan of the president. That’s nothing. You’re just putting malice,” he said.

Panelo insisted that Kim exercised her own agency the entire time. He said she was a willing recipient of the kiss and Duterte would only be in trouble if he forced her into the situation.

“If the woman did not want it, she would not do it no matter what you do,” he said.

Esguerra pointed out, however, that it was indeed Duterte who orchestrated the incident so that Kim would be onstage, in front of him.

Duterte invited Kim and another woman from the audience to receive a book on stage during his meeting with the Filipino community in Seoul. Face to face with Kim, the Philippine leader gestured that he would kiss her. He had asked if she could just tell her husband that the kiss would be for fun. She appeared to have said yes.

Esguerra said: “I can only imagine how awkward it would have been for many other women if you’re called by the President on stage and you’re now standing face to face with the President. Hindi natin puwede saibihin na lahat ng babae gusto ‘yun (We can’t say that all women would have liked that).”

Panelo insisted there was nothing awkward about that particular incident.

“That awkwardness I did not see in that particular incident. What I see is they all want to kiss the President,” said Duterte’s chief lawyer.

Yet Panelo had admitted in the same interview that Kim appeared “shy” before she was kissed by the President.

Nahihiya siyang humalik eh (She was shy about being kissed),” he had said.

Duterte himself has waved off fierce criticism saying the critics were merely jealous of Kim and that, if he were to kiss a woman with malice, he would “pull the woman down somewhere along the empty hall there.” –



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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.