DAVAO CITY - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte did not mean to offend GMA-7 reporter Mariz Umali when he wolf-whistled at the female journalist during a press conference on Tuesday, his spokesperson said.
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.
"The fact alone na nagtawanan yung mga tao eh ibig sabihin nun that expression was meant to be a joke and also as a compliment," he 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."
"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," he said. "Then again, that's Mayor Duterte."
Tima also said he was appalled by how some of the people in the venue laughed and even made teasing noises and urged the president-elect to dish some more.
"I do hope none of them were journalists because if they were, shame on them. When you see or hear anyone say something wrong, you do not encourage it, you do the opposite. Or in that particular instance, at least, they should have kept quiet and in their silence gave the message that what the mayor did was wrong," Tima said.
"Some jokes are funny and should be laughed at... but disrespecting women is definitely not one of them." - Report from Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News