DAVAO CITY - Cielito 'Honeylet' Avanceña, the common-law wife of Rodrigo Duterte, has taken up the cudgels for the president-elect who has received criticisms over his recent comments on media killings and his catcalling.
"Misunderstood na naman talaga siya. Oo, always," Avanceña told ABS-CBN News.
Duterte's spokespersons earlier this week defended the Davao City mayor, saying he was just again "taken out of context, misinterpreted and misunderstood" when he said that many journalists in the Philippines are killed for being corrupt.
"Kaya namamatay kasi karamihan diyan nabayaran na. They take sides or sobrahan ang atake, getting personal," Duterte said in a press conference Tuesday.
Peter Laviña said Duterte's remarks were only based on his own assessment of members of the media killed in Davao City "and not on the national scale."
Incoming presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo added that Duterte did not back violence against journalists with his statements.
READ: 'Duterte's media killings statement taken out of context'
This was echoed by Avanceña, who said Duterte does not wish anyone in the media harm.
"Na-misunderstood lang naman siya. Sa puso niya, he would never wish the media that something bad will happen. Ano lang yun sa kanya, parang nag-set lang siya ng statement, pero sa puso niya never niyang iwi-wish," she said.
Duterte, in another press conference Thursday, said he will not apologize over his statements as he was just telling the truth.
"Huwag na tayong magbolahan, alam niyo yan. [There are] vultures pretending to be journalists. Ang problema dito, every son of a b**** who claim to be journalists make money, extorting money from people," he said.
READ: Duterte blasts 'vultures pretending to be journalists'
The president-elect has also received flak for catcalling GMA-7 reporter Mariz Umali, which upset her husband, fellow reporter Raffy Tima, who described Duterte's act as being "wrong in so many levels."
"I expected that from a Mayor Duterte. I know his reputation well enough not to be shocked by it, but that does not make it right," Tima said. "Then again, that's Mayor Duterte."
Duterte, however, insisted that what he did is part of freedom of expression, and that whistling is not sexual harassment.
"(whistles) You know, you don't have any business stopping me every time I (whistles). That is a freedom of expression," he said.
READ: Duterte: Whistling is not sexual
Avanceña maintained that Duterte has no intention of disrespecting any woman.
She stressed, however, that people can expect a "transformation" of Duterte once he has taken his oath on June 30.
READ: Change coming: Duterte vows to be 'presidential'
"Ano talaga yung bunganga niya, miski nung unang panahon, ganyan na talaga yung bunganga niya. Pero I believe him, meron siyang mga transformation once he has taken his oath. Hayaan niyo muna," she said.
Duterte and Avanceña have a daughter, Veronica. - Report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News