Viral video shows Filipino president Duterte inappropriately gesturing maid, palace says 'No malice'

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A video of Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte inappropriately gesturing at his housemaid went viral on Monday. However, the palace has claimed that there was 'no malice' in his actions.

File photo of Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte | AFP image

The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has been once again caught in a controversy. Known for his controversial remarks on several subjects, including women, Duterte has been caught on camera inappropriately gesturing at his housemaid during his birthday celebration.

A viral video shows Duterte seating at a table laden with what appeared to be his 76th birthday over the weekend. He then appeared to reach out towards the crotch of a woman who was approaching him, holding a cake.

This is the video. Nag deactivate si girlalu but not after someone downloaded it. pic.twitter.com/B13pmZtvS4

— Gina A. Policarpio (@gapolicarpio) March 28, 2021

While the video attracted a lot of criticism online, the president's spokesperson defended the action by claiming that he meant no malice.

"That's his longtime help. Our president is fond of joking, but that has no malice because Ma'am Honeylet was there," Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing. Honeylet Avanceña is Duterte's partner.

This is not the first time that the Filipino president has been caught in a controversy related to his behaviour towards women.

Duterte has several times drawn criticism for sexist comments and rape jokes. He even called several women "bitch."

In 2018, Duterte said he touched the private parts of a female helper when he was still a teenager. His then spokesman Salvador Panelo had termed it as a "laughable anecdote."

But the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said officials should be "consistent both in words and deeds in this regard, and refrain from making statements that may contravene its commitment to uphold the rights of Filipino workers abroad."

In November 2020, Duterte and other government officials joked about sex and womanizing during a post-typhoon briefing in calamity-hit Camarines Sur. This prompted a reminder from CHR that the objectification of women is a form of violence.