Duterte denies objectifying women

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has openly admitted his womanizing ways on national TV. There are also photographs of Duterte kissing at least two women seated on his lap during his campaign in Pampanga, but he refuted that he is objectifying women.

During CNN Philippines' Townhall episode with Duterte and Cayetano on Thursday (February 18), one of the most applauded questions came from a student who asked the mayor if he objectifies women.

Duterte, who is annulled from his wife Elizabeth Zimmerman after she found out he was womanizing, admitted that he currently has three girlfriends and a common-law wife, but that does not mean that he sees and treats women merely as objects.

"Not ever. I have a mother, I have a daughter, I have a wife. Why would I do it? Nagsasabi lang naman ako ng totoo pag sinabi kong may girlfriend akong tatlo. It's not an object [sic] simply because I am separated from my wife," Duterte said.

"Sometimes you go for the socially correct, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to biology," he added.

Related: Duterte to consider legalizing same-sex marriage if he becomes president

Duterte is aware that his comments about his personal life, especially his love life, generates talks that he sees women as objects and not as human beings.

'Conservative Christian' Cayetano sides with his running mate

Cayetano, Duterte's running mate under PDP-Laban, quickly came to the defense of the mayor, saying that despite his womanizing, he does not see women as objects as he created city ordinances for Davao that protects women.

Cayetano added that Davao City prioritizes protecting women in every aspect, such as focusing on maternal health and the reproductive health.

Related: Duterte's platform of government

In 2004, Davao City received an award from Galing Pook for Special Citation as Most Gender-Responsive LGU and in 2005, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (now Philippine Commission on Women) awarded the city as the local government unit with best practices on gender and development.

Cayetano, who described himself as a conservative Christian, said that he was comfortable that his running mate is a womanizer.

He confidently added that he knows all the six presidential candidates and five other vice presidential candidates, claiming he knows they are also womanizers, except for the female candidates.

"Nung tinanong ako 'Are you comfortable?' because I am a conservative Christian. Sabi ko, 'I know the presidentiables and vice presidentiables eh. Ang sa akin ang hindi lang nambababae na presidentiables si Grace Poe at tsaka Miriam Defensor-Santiago.' Sa vice presidents marami din. But the thing is, hindi nila inaamin," Cayetano said.

Related: Six presidentiables, six vice presidentiables on Comelec official ballot

"Does it [Duterte's actions] offend some people? Yes, but that is not his intention," he added.

Kissing spree taken out of context?

After their campaign in Pampanga earlier this month, photographs of Duterte kissing at least two women seated on his lap emerged from journalists who covered the event. Cayetano shared the "real" context of the photos.

He shared that there was one candidate who advised Duterte not to go near some supporters for various reasons.

"So si mayor started hugging them and saying, 'Ako, I don't care. You can't be president and exclude people and say na mabaho sila etc."

Cayetano stood by his view that the media is spinning the news in favor of some candidates to the point of portraying Duterte as a man of power who sexually harrasses women.

"Sabi ng ibang network pinilit halikan. Paano mo pipilitin in front of TV [sic], eh di nakasuhan si mayor ng acts of lasciviousness," Cayetano said.