Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte said he is just joking when he spanks female police officers

Image: Malacanang Photo/Handout via Reuters
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Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has often been compared to US president-elect Donald Trump. Both leaders have quick tempers, a reputation for holding grudges, and launch headline-grabbing tirades against their opponents. Now there’s another point of comparison between the two leaders: their attitude towards women.

In October a video emerged in which Trump bragged that his stardom meant women let him “grab them by the pussy—you can do anything.” Plenty of women, of course, would beg to differ, and before month’s end a dozen had come forward alleging they had experienced or seen inappropriate behavior from the candidate first-hand. (Trump said they lied and that he would sue some of them.)

On Nov. 26 Duterte admitted he sometimes spanks female security staff in Malacañang Palace, the White House of the Philippines. Demonstrating how he spanks them with a folder, he said, “I spank them on their bottoms in Malacañang if I’m ill-tempered. I get my folder and tell them, ‘You’re part of the problem.’”

“It’s done jokingly,” he said.

He added that Western mores and “modern times” mean “our lives are no longer fun.”

Duterte was speaking at an alumni homecoming of the San Beda College of Law in Manila, from which he graduated in the early 1970s.

Also like Trump, Duterte seems to be able to get away with comments and behavior that would ruin the political careers of others. As a presidential candidate in April, he joked about Jacqueline Hamill, a Protestant missionary from Sydney who in 1989 was gang-raped and brutally killed in Davao City, where Duterte was mayor. “I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing,” he said. “But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”

Duterte faced international condemnation for the comments, which also became linked to the social media hashtag #RapeIsNotAJoke.

Like Trump, however, Duterte nevertheless became president.