By Genalyn D. Kabiling
SEOUL – An overseas Filipino worker got a rare kiss on the lips from President Duterte in a light moment during his visit to South Korea Sunday.
A gathering of Filipino workers erupted in frenzy when the President planted a friendly kiss on the lips on a woman supporter onstage.
The woman, later identified as Bea Kim, was one of two recipients of the President’s free copy of the “Altar of Secrets” book during the meeting with the Filipino community at the Grand Hilton Hotel here.
Duterte initially offered to give the book, which tells the tales of alleged abuses of the Filipino clergy, to a select member of the audience and then invited two women to come up the stage. He gave the book but jokingly asked for a kiss from the two ladies.
The first lady bussed the President on the cheek while the second lady agreed to be kissed on the lips. The crowd was loudly teasing the President and the lady to seal it with a kiss already.
Duterte first asked the lady if she was single and found out she was married. Asked by the President if it was okay to give her a friendly kiss on the lips, the lady, looking excited to be up close and personal with Duterte, eventually agreed.
The smack on the lips sparked applause and laughter from the crowd towards the end of the President’s speech. The President then gave the lady an affectionate hug before she left the stage.
Prior to the kissing incident, the President was delivering a long speech tackling various topics from mining, corruption, war on drugs, to the alleged abuses in the Catholic Church.
Malacañang downplayed the kissing incident, saying there was no malice in the gesture.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed the public reaction to the presidential kiss was “mostly positive or neutral.”
“Lady involved also said there’s no malice in the kiss,” Roque said in a message to reporters.
Kim, in a video posted by the Philippine News Agency on Facebook, claimed that there was no malice in the kiss with the President. She described her encounter with the President as a once-in-a-lifetime experience in her life.