Duterte admits ogling at Robredo’s legs during Cabinet meeting
MANILA — In an act that may spark condemnation from women’s groups, President Duterte let loose his philandering self as he openly flirted with Vice President Leni Robredo in front of hundreds of survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Tacloban City on Tuesday.
Speaking at the event marking the tragedy’s third year, Mr. Duterte told his audience how he and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez once ogled at Robredo’s knees during a Cabinet meeting.
He said Robredo, who visibly looked uneasy while the President was talking about her, would come to their meeting in Malacañang wearing short skirts.
“Please don’t be offended (with what I have said) because I’m not mad. You would know I’m mad when I start looking at beautiful women,” Mr. Duterte said in Filipino as he stared at the Vice President, eliciting giggles from the crowd.
He said he used to seat beside Robredo during their Cabinet meeting, but the protocol officer in Malacañang apparently noticed that he would just stay behind her.
“You know ma’am Leni would always wear skirts which are shorter than usual. At one time, Dominguez asked me come closer because I was far from them. But I told him, ‘Come here. Look at (Robredo’s) knees,’” he said as the crowd rolled in laughter.
“Maybe she noticed (that I was looking at her). I wanted to tell her, ‘Ma’am maybe next time you just wear shorts… But after our third meeting, she was already there at the far end of the table. I lost the view during the Cabinet meeting,” he continued.
Before concluding his speech, Mr. Duterte sang a line from Anthony Castelo’s song “Malayo Ang Tingin.”
The President also asked Robredo, the widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, in jest if rumors were true that she had found a boyfriend. “Don’t be offended. Is it true? If it’s true, a congressman may be killed.”
Mr. Duterte said he would often tease Robredo to lighten the mood when their meetings become dull and filled with tension.
The President had previously earned the ire of women’s groups for kissing young women during the campaign.
He also drew flak when he joked about the gang rape of Australian missionary worker Jaqueline Hamill when he was still the mayor of Davao City in 1989. SFM/rga