MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte clarified on Thursday his recent remarks against women, saying he does not look down on women.

“It’s not that I’m not impressed. I believe in women, the competence, and capability, but not everything in life,” Duterte explained in his speech during the inauguration of the Davao River Bridge widening project in Davao City.

Duterte drew the ire of women when he said he does not want a woman to be the next Chief Justice.

“That’s why I don’t want female police or soldiers in the fields. Unlike men, we grew up throwing punches, in fistfights and gunfights and we grew up with a sort of a mindset, sometimes prone to violence,” Duterte explained.

“It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said.

Last Wednesday, Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go said Duterte has always been a protector and has high respect and regard for women.

“President Rodrigo Duterte has always been a firm believer and protector of women’s rights. He has high respect for women,” Go said in a press statement.

Go, a long-time aide of Duterte, said the President has in fact pushed for the passage of laws and programs that protect and uphold women’s rights when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Some of these local laws include the landmark Women Development Code and the creation of the Integrated Gender Development Division of Davao City.

“Because of these advocacies, Davao City has been recognized as a Gender and Development Local Learning Hub in the Philippines,” Go said.

He said the claims of the #BabaeAko campaign that the President is not pro-women and looks down on women is “truly unfair” and “clearly political”.

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s recent remarks on women are “a mere play of words”.

“PRRD’s statement reflects his growing frustration over the continuous and non-stop tirades against his administration by the ousted Chief Justice (Ma. Lourdes Sereno) and Ombudsman (Conchita Carpio Morales),” Roque said.

Roque said Duterte’s appointment of women in government does not only demonstrate but a proof that women can occupy leadership roles in his government.

Roque is referring to new Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Department of Social Welfare and Development Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo, and Commission on Elections commissioner Socorro Inting.

The Department of Education (DepEd) is also headed by a woman, Secretary Leonor Briones. (PNA)