The speaker of the Philippines House of Representatives, Pantaleon Alvarez is an old friend and powerful ally of president Rodrigo Duterte so it comes as no surprise when the commander in chief sprang to the defence of his pal who was accused of adultery.
The Philippines public has however been enraged at the manner in which the president went about this business, he practically admitted to being an adulterer himself while defending the practice. Describing it as a ‘non-issue’, the President said in a speech:
‘This is a world of hypocrisy. Who among you here does not have a mistress?’ But the comments drew sharp rebukes in the conservative and mainly Catholic nation where divorce is publicly frowned upon. Senator Risa Hontiveros said: ‘All of it is sexist and misogynistic to explain improper behaviour simply by virtue of being male.
‘It sends a message that undermines the many struggles and gains so far for women’s rights and gender equality.’ Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez made headlines in the past week when he publicly admitted having fathered eight children, six of them with two women other than his wife.
Duterte, in the televised speech to government employees in Manila, admitted his comments defending 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.’
Duterte said that unlike married Christian Filipinos who are allowed a single wife, Alvarez ‘never converted to Christianity. So he is not bound by the rules of the number of women that you can have.’
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.
‘Who isn’t entitled to happiness? Ask these lawmakers, how many of them have two, three or four mistresses? Ask them,’ Duterte said in his first public comments on the Alvarez controversy.
Elizabeth Angsioco, national chairwoman of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines said the president’s stance reeks of double standards. She said: ‘These are men in positions of power so it’s unacceptable and appalling that they just speak lightly of these things. It’s very dangerous.’