Such were the words of now-United States President Donald Trump in 2005, as he talked about how fame allowed him to get his way with women.

He was not yet a politician at that time, just a very lucky businessman and a famous reality television star.

“It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” his voice, caught on tape, told Access Hollywood Billy Bush.

“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything,” he boasted.

Overseas Filipino worker Bea Kim certainly let President Rodrigo Duterte kiss her on stage, when he was speaking with the Filipino community in Seoul over the weekend.

“There was no malice in it,” Kim said in a video. “For him, for me, it did not mean anything.”

He did ask permission, too, asking Kim whether she could tell her husband that it was just a joke.

Kim added that the gesture was just some twist for the audience. Duterte said it was gimmickry. And how the audience cheered.

Whatever the reaction, the gesture does not help disprove the perception that Mr. Duterte is a misogynist. He has been known to kiss women when he was just campaigning. He uttered a distasteful remark about wanting to be the first in line to rape an Australian missionary in the 1980s. He has also spoken about shooting female insurgents in the genitals and giving his blessing to soldiers in Mindanao, should they rape women at the height of martial law.

He also said he does not want the next ombudsman to be a woman, because women were easily intimidated.

Despite these, he insists he is in fact pro-women, causing the enactment of laws protecting them when he was still mayor.

Of course by this time, for better or worse, the public knows better than take its President seriously. This is how he is able to get away with the most incendiary statements and despicable acts. It is easy for him to say later on that everything was a joke, that he did not mean what he said or did, and yes, that there was no malice in his act. He is a maverick, and should we not make room for a maverick’s quirks?

Not all the time. Not in this.

Definitely we do not cheer the President’s latest antic, even if Kim was apparently all right with it. Then again, how could one utter anything than agreement when one is standing beside the most powerful man in the country?

Nobody can judge the presence or absence of malice when Mr. Duterte did what he did. But if we can speak in terms of appearances, then this latest act does not look good at all. In fact, it is appalling because it shows a belief —no, an entitlement—that he can do anything and get away with it./ posted June 05, 2018 at 12:50 am by Manila Standard

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