SEOUL — The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has been criticised for kissing a married woman on the lips during a speech in South Korea on Sunday evening in front of thousands of cheering supporters.
Duterte, 73, dismissed the kiss as a ‘gimmick’ to entertain supporters at a meet-and-greet event with overseas Filipino workers in South Korea. But one senator called the act “a despicable display of sexism and grave abuse of authority”.
Duterte sought a kiss from the woman after he called her on stage to give her a copy of a book at the event in Seoul, the Philippine Star reported. When Duterte asked if she could explain to her husband that the antic was just a joke, and she said yes, the president leaned in and kissed her as thousands erupted in cheers.
State-run Philippine News Agency identified the woman as Bea Kim and also posted a brief video interview with her on its Facebook page.
The scene was broadcast live by the state-run TV network to the Philippines.
The woman has defended the kiss and said she was thrilled by her encounter but others said the president went too far.
But, women’s rights group Gabriela argued the act represented “disgusting theatrics of a misogynist president who feels entitled to demean, humiliate or disrespect women according to his whim”.
“His repeated acts of machismo are meant as entertainment to hide the reality of his rapidly slipping popularity due to the issues of extrajudicial killings, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law and big-time corruption scandals now plaguing his rule,” the group said in a statement.
Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely
COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.
The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.
“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.