MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday described the remarks made by President Rodrigo Duterte about her as "inappropriate," noting that "tasteless remarks have no place in the society."
Duterte, while in Tacloban with Robredo for the third anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, teased Robredo about her relationship status, also implying he was a viable option for the widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
He also cited an instance when Robredo supposedly wore a short skirt and caught his attention during a Cabinet meeting.
"When President Duterte made inappropriate remarks, I deliberately chose to ignore these. There are larger and more urgent issues we confront as a nation that demand our collective attention," Robredo said in a statement, citing the commemoration of Yolanda and the housing for the victims, and the Supreme Court decision on the burial of former President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"But many were bothered and offended by it. As we all rightly should. Tasteless remarks and inappropriate advances against women should have no place in our society. We should expect that most of all from our leaders," she said.
Robredo added that having worked as an alternative lawyer fighting for the rights of women, her commitment "will never waver."
"This episode only strengthens my resolve to fulfill my mandate as the duly elected VP, who is determined to help alleviate poverty through building homes and communities," she said.
"My mission of building partnerships to uplift the lives of the Filipino family will continue with renewed vigor," she added.
Duterte insisted however, that his remarks were appropriate.
"Tuhod lang? Yes, I said she was wearing a skirt. Sabi ko, hindi nagsisimba ito. It is appropriate. As a matter of fact, it is good. What’s the problem there? What’s the issue? Sexist?," he said.
In defense, he said those remarks, which he admitted he also does "every meeting" with his Cabinet, was just meant to "lighten the moment."
"What’s so special about the knee of a person?," he said.
He also argued that making those remarks were "necessary to make people laugh for them to enjoy the occasion kasi galit ako."
"I was angry yesterday because after 42-billion sa NHA pati after 30-billion sa DSWD—hindi kami ‘yan ah; bago lang kami pumasok—ang naka-occupy pa lang is 4,000," he said, adding that he said those remarks "to break the ice."
"What’s so special about the body of a woman or the knee of a woman na walang kalyo? Ibig sabihin, baka hindi nagsisimba," he said.
Asked if it is not offending for a president to be making those comments especially pertaining to his vice-president, Duterte said: "What’s wrong with being president? I don’t stop [being] president because [I said that]."
"Do not exact standard for me. I will do what I say, and I say what I do," he said.
"Those jokes like that is nothing unless umakyat ka sa tuhod hanggang dito, then that could be an extreme bad take. Pero sabihin mo na ‘tingnan mo, hindi ito nagsisimba, and tuhod nito,’ so?"
"You want to depict me as bastos, you can. Have your day. It’s not my concern to impose the standard kung yan ang ano. Do not put a limitation or cast aspersion sa mga biro ko kasi ako, hindi ako heneral, pulitiko ako. Natural sa amin yang magpatawa, lalo na after magalit," he said.
Duterte then hit the media for making a big issue of what he said is "trivial."