Duterte: Whistling is not sexual

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2016 12:51 AM | Updated as of Sep 27 2016 04:53 PM

'I wasn't expecting an apology,' says Umali

(UPDATED) President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said catcalling or wolf-whistling in public is part of freedom of expression, denying claims that he disrespected a married reporter of GMA-7.

In a news conference on Thursday, Duterte answered allegations that he himself violated Davao City's Gender and Development Code, after he catcalled Mariz Umali during a press conference on Tuesday.

READ: Did Duterte violate Davao's gender code?

"(whistles) You know, you don't have any business stopping me every time I (whistles). That is a freedom of expression," he said, adding that whistling is not sexual harassment.

"Parang you cajole with the woman. (whistles) 'Miss, saan ka?' As a matter of fact, when I first saw you [reporter who asked the question], I said (whistles)," Duterte added. "Go to another question. You cannot stop anybody from whistling."

Duterte also said he whistled because he was exasperated by the reporter's question.

"I was exasperated by the question. Whistling is not a sexual thing. (whistles)," he said.

He, likewise, said it was other people who presumed that he was catcalling Umali.

"Do not presume that you are the one [who I catcalled]. It belongs to the person. I may look at you (whistles) but I would look at that woman there. Because if you do that, especially if I whistle in public, you are speculating whether you are the one. It needs to be a cajole, cajole in, (whistles) 'Mari, ang ganda mo.' There has to be something like, really, inviting the...sexual undertones. Kung mag-whistling lang ako, [preventing] that kind of thing is intruding into constitutional grounds. Freedom of expression," he said.

"If you are a beautiful woman, at sabihin mo whistling is directed at a woman, (whistles) what am I doing? I am suggesting sexual intercourse? Would you think that would be the meaning? Or would you want that I want to fondle you? (whistles) I'm expressing something. You overextend the dimensions of...," Duterte added.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Umali should instead take Duterte's whistling as a compliment since it only means that the Davao City mayor "loves" her.

"Mayor Duterte is a very kind, playful individual. Pag siya'y pumito, ibig sabihin he's fond of you, ibig sabihin mahal ka niya, kaya ka binibiro. Hindi po isang pambabastos yun. On the contrary, the receiver of that should be complimented," Panelo said.

Duterte: Whistling is not sexual 1
Photo from Mariz Umali's Facebook account.


Umali, for her part, said she did not expect Duterte to apologize for what he did.

"From the very start, I said that I am not expecting any apology from him. Parang hahayaan ko lang siya. If he wants or not," she told ABS-CBN News.

"Pero ang akin lang, if that his explanation, then let him be. Let it be. His explanation speaks for itself," Umali added.

Umali also said she was surprised at how Duterte reacted to her question.

"Sa totoo, I was surprised. 'Yung sinasabi ko na parang, I was really surprised with his response because I was not expecting that kind of response from him. Parang alam ko na mabiro siya, sometimes rude, sometimes sarcastic, but not that kind of response to my question," she said.

Despite Duterte's actions, Umali said she opted to focus on getting an answer to her question.

"But, parang ako kasi, parang I concentrated on what I was doing eh, and I focused on my question. I wanted really to get an answer and I insisted on getting an answer, which I did, 'di ba?" she added.

Umali's husband, fellow GMA-7 reporter Raffy Tima, took offense at Duterte's actions.

In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, Tima said catcalling his wife was "wrong in so many levels," adding that such action from someone who espouses leadership by example "defies logic."