IN electoral campaigns, kissing babies is outranked in value only by shaking hands. The American tradition has long found its way among Filipino politicians who ape almost every strategy in and off the books just to get the votes. Like pumping hands, kissing babies doesn't cost much.
Except for the baby, which could get lipstick from the kisser, if a woman like Grace Poe or Leni Robredo, or germs that hands and mouth from the politico can spread.
But it's not babies whom presidentiable Rodrigo Duterte kisses. It's babes but maybe not teenagers or grandmas who're the most likely to howl or sue for lascivious acts.
Digong insists there was nothing wrong when he locked lips with at least two women in a "kissing spree" in San Fernando, Pampanga, which involved mostly plants on the cheek.
Check out his reasons:
-- "Masama ba? Minamahal ko sila. And minus the sexual undertones. Hindi naman tongue-to-tongue." (In one video-recorded scene, tip of his tongue darted out after a kiss).
-- If you think the women are dirty, "bakit magpresidente ka?" (As in, you have to kiss women voters to prove you don't find them repulsive.) "Nag-toothbrush, nag-mouthwash naman ako."
-- Morality? "Susmaryosep. Walang anuman ang kissing." (Did the women ask for it? Video clip of women struggling, wanting only a "beso-beso" but got lip-nibbling instead, seems to contradict consent.)
Duterte's supporters cheer and laugh. The usual critics carp but the majority keeps its silence.
When asked if he'd still kiss women in public and on the lips if he became president, he said yes, "uulitin ko."
By this time, people must have definite ideas as to what kind of president he would make. They could expect "outrageous" acts and pronouncements, controversies and disputes. Duterte, like singer David Bowie, could promise they wouldn't be bored.