President Rodrigo Duterte. PCOO PHOTO

Known for his controversial public statements, President Duterte was criticized anew by opposition senator Leila de Lima for his sexist remark on incumbent Bohol Mayor Tita Baja-Gallentes.

“Yan ang klase ng Pangulo meron tayo ngayon,” she added in a written statement “Saksakan ang kabastusan!”

Last week while delivering his speech in Bohol, Duterte said he was enamored by Baja-Gallentes’ beauty, further saying how he would hold on to the garter of her underwear so she will stay with him.

“Can you run away with me?” Duterte publicly asked Baja-Gallentes, even insinuating that he can leave behind his four grown-up children.

De Lima criticizes Duterte for his endless public statements that “erodes women’s dignity and advocates sexism, even promoting violence and abuses against them.”

Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo brushed off the President’s statement as a mere joke, saying that “people are always expecting that he will crack some jokes – pakwela lang yun.”

However, De Lima maintained that Duterte’s comment should not be tolerated as this is a disrespectful gender-based remark that incites abuse against women.

“Kahiya-hiya! Joke or not, remarks like that are completely loathsome and unacceptable,” she said.

Since Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016, women human rights defenders including De Lima, and activists in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have become vulnerable to harassment and misogynistic attacks and sexual violence. (Joel Mangahis)