Duterte's 'playful' move to touch helper isn't Visayan humor – ex-PTV reporter

Duterte's 'playful' move to touch helper isn't Visayan humor – ex-PTV reporter

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s seemingly playful gesture of reaching out with his hand to touch his female house helper is not part of Visayan humor, a former People’s Television Network (PTV) reporter, Jules Guiang, said in a tweet on Monday.

Guiang said Duterte’s action should not be construed and defended as “a mere joke” — as it was called by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and by the chief executive’s supporters — because doing so would justify disrespecting women.

The controversy surrounding Duterte’s “joke” started when netizens critical of the administration used a video clip taken during the president’s birthday last Sunday to show that his celebration was not as simple as it appeared in a photo posted by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go in his Facebook account.

The photo shows Duterte blowing a candle stuck into a mound of rice, instead of a cake.

In the video, administration critics observed that Duterte tried to reach out towards the pelvic area of his house helper who brought him a cupcake with a candle. This was after Duterte had blown out the candle on the mound of rice.

“It’s not Visayan humor to disrespect women, and it’s also not being playful as Harry [Roque] said in his defense,” Guiang said in Filipino in his tweet.

In the same tweet, Guiang addressed Duterte’s supporters, saying: “You can only be called fanatics who will drag in all Visayans just to justify Duterte’s rudeness.”

“Even during the campaign [for the 2016 presidential election], it was already established that he is rude,”

One Twitter user shared Guiang’s views, saying that what Duterte did — which some of his Visayan supporters defended as part of their humor — was to demean Visayans and Mindanaoans.

“Duterte is an embarrassment to Visayans and Mindanaoans. He further damaged their image, which has always been subject to the judgment of those in Luzon,” the Twitter user said.

On Monday, Roque defended Duterte’s action, saying there was in it since Duterte’s common-law wife, Honeylet Avaceñ, was present when the video was taken.

Roque also dismissed the opinions of critics on the issue, saying that it was only a “playful joke.”  He also noted that none of the people at the celebration complained about it.

This is not the first time that Duterte drew flak for his attitude towards women. In 2018, he admitted when he was young — an action that women’s rights advocated deemed as harassment and rape.

Guiang became more critical and outspoken against the government ever since leaving PTV in 2020, because state-controlled media outfit refused to renew his contract.

In a July 2020 interview with, Guiang said that was that he expressed support for beleaguered network ABS-CBN — which ceased operating after Duterte’s allies in the House of Representatives rejected bids to give it a new franchise.