MANILA - Malacañang on Sunday defended President Rodrigo Duterte's remark about touching a housekeeper's private parts when he was still a teenager, saying it was a "concocted story" meant as a criticism against alleged sexual abuses committed by priests.
"In his inimitable allegorical style of of dramatising the sexual abuse the President suffered when he was a minor, he has made up a laughable anecdote to dramatize the fact of sexual abuse that was inflicted on him and his fellow students when they were in high school," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"He purposely added and spliced the story with vulgarity to characterise the behavior of the priest who insisted to hear more sins during their confessions when there were none," he added.
Speaking before a crowd in Kidapawan City, Cotabato on Saturday during the distribution of certificates of land ownership award to agrarian reform beneficiaries, the President said he confessed to a priest once about touching a housekeeper.
Women's rights advocates slammed Duterte's revelation, saying it emphasizes the "very low regard on women."
Gabriela also said this is the latest of countless statements made by the President, "bragging flagrantly committing crimes against women."
Responding to criticism against Duterte, Panelo said critics have "lost the ability of discerning a reality from a rebuke on the hypocrisy of the priests who molested him and his classmates when they were high school students."
"The President has evolved an unorthodox and mischievous method of exposing and criticising the hypocritical practices of those men in religious cloak. While the telling of the concocted story triggers laughter on his audience, the message that the President intends to convey is not lost on his listeners," he said.
Panelo said Duterte will keep his "shocking and amusing out of the box utterances" as political signature that is loved by the public.
The President, who has criticized the Catholic Church and made rape jokes, claimed he was abused by a priest in a Catholic school.