What VP Leni Thinks Of President Duterte's 'Inappropriate Remarks'

'Many were bothered and offended by them. As we all rightly should.'
by F. Valencia
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On Tuesday, November 8, President Rodrigo Duterte was in Tacloban City to speak at the event marking the third year since Typhoon Yolanda struck.

For some reason, Duterte ended up telling the audience how he and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez once ogled Vice President Leni Robredo's knees during a Cabinet meeting.

Robredo also happened to be onstage as Duterte joked about her.

In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, Duterte was quoted as saying, "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 added, "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."

But that wasn't it yet.

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GMA News Online noted that Duterte then asked Robredo, "Ma'am, balita ko, may boyfriend ka raw? Sabi nila (Ma'am, I heard news that you already have a boyfriend? That's what they said)."

When Robredo laughed and shook her head, Duterte quipped, "Do not be offended. Iyong sabi nila? Hindi iyon totoo? Kung totoo iyan ma'am may mapatay na congressman na bago... Para ma-biyuda ulit (Don't be offended. So, what they said? That's not true? If that's true, ma'am, there will be another congressman who'll be killed... So you'll be a widow again)."

Robredo, as everyone knows, is the widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo who died in a plane crash in 2012.

For her part, Robredo simply brushed off Duterte's jokes. She told the Philippine Daily Inquirer: "Actually, nasasanay na ako kay Presidente parati akong nagiging pulutan. Gaya ng sabi niya, parang ano iyon...pabirong pagsabi. Ano naman, medyo nasasanay na ako kay Presidente (Actually, I've gotten used to the President using me as the subject of his jokes. Like what he said, he was just joking around. I've gotten sort of used to the President doing that)."

However, on Wednesday, November 9, Robredo issued a statement on the matter as many women's groups pointed out that Duterte's joke about ogling her legs was offensive.

Robredo's statement reads: "When President Duterte made inappropriate remarks, I deliberately chose to ignore these. There are larger and more urgent issues we confront as a nation that demand our collective attention."

She went on to explain, "But many were bothered and offended by [them]. 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."

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