World

Duterte draws ire for defending adultery

MANILA Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte faced criticism from a powerful political ally yesterday for defending adultery.

Mr Duterte had said that like himself, House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez - who has made public his extramarital affairs - had "many wives".

"This is a world of hypocrisy. Who among you here does not have a mistress?" the president said in a speech aired "live" on television, adding it was "a non-issue".

The comments drew sharp rebukes in the conservative and mainly Catholic nation that remains the last holdout against divorce - apart from the Vatican itself.

"All of it is sexist and misogynistic to explain improper behaviour simply by virtue of being male," Senator Risa Hontiveros said.

"It sends a message that undermines the many struggles and gains for women's rights and gender equality."

Mr Alvarez, the country's fourth-highest official, is an old friend and political ally of Mr Duterte's.

The politician made headlines in the past week when he publicly admitted having sired eight children, six of them with two women other than his wife.

Mr Duterte, in the televised speech to government employees in Manila, admitted his comments defending Mr Alvarez's affairs were "a chauvinist statement".

"But really, there are so many women and you (have) so short a time in this world. My God!" he said in comments that drew laughter from the crowd.

"The thing there is that you're able to support the children. That's it."

Mr Duterte, 72, whose first marriage was annulled and who is in a long-term relationship with another woman, has openly boasted about having mistresses and using Viagra to have sex with them. - AFP

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