MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte and his aides joked about sex and womanizing in a post-typhoon briefing in calamity-hit Camarines Sur, prompting Vice President Leni Robredo to urge the government to focus its communication strategy on things that matter.
Duterte was in the province on Sunday to check the impact of typhoon Ulysses which toppled electric posts, spawned floods that swamped homes, and drove tens of thousands of residents to evacuation centers last week.
The President said he knew Social Welfare Undersecretary for Bicol Affairs Marvel Clavecilla, who was in the typhoon briefing, because they were classmates in law school.
"Pero naubos ang panahon niya sa ano, medyo tumanda na. Nakakatanda talaga ‘yan. Sobrang babae, nakakatanda ‘yan," he quipped in the briefing.
(But he spent his time on women, he got old. That really ages you: too many women.)
Clavecilla replied, "Sabi nga po ni Cong. LRay [Villafuerte] undersex daw po ako, undersex. Kaya kung puwed--kung puwede po gawin mo na akong secretary para hindi na undersex."
(Cong. LRay Villarfuerte told me I am undersexed. If possible, make me a secretary so that I will not be undersexed.)
Officials at the briefing could be heard laughing at his statement.
But in the Palace's official transcript of the briefing, Clavecilla was quoted as saying "undersecs" instead of "undersex."
Duterte then brought up an acquaintance who supposedly died of the novel coronavirus.
"P***** i**. Kulang sa babae kung ganoon," Clavecilla replied.
(He lacked women, if that's the case.)
Vice President Leni Robredo, whose home province is Camarines Sur, said she did not personally hear Duterte's jokes. However, she said if the country is going through "something really serious," the government should "communicate how urgent a particular matter is."
"Napakahalaga yung mensahe na (it is very important that the message) we are giving utmost urgency on things that are really urgent," she told ANC.
"Pag dinadaan kasi siya sa or pag binibigyan ng atensyon yung ibang bagay, yung nae-evoke natin, nako-communicate natin, mali; nako-communicate natin na hindi ito ganun kaimportante na seseryosohin natin," she added.
(If we give attention to other things, what we evoke, communicate is wrong; we are communicating that this is not important enough to take seriously.)
The death toll from the deadliest cyclone to hit the Philippines this year has climbed to 67, while many areas remained submerged in a northern region hit by the worst flooding in more than 4 decades, officials said on Sunday.
Twenty-two fatalities were recorded in Cagayan, 17 in southern Luzon, 8 in Metro Manila, and 20 in 2 other regions, said Mark Timbal, the disaster management agency spokesman.
- With a report from Reuters