“There wasn’t malice in it,” Ms. Kim later told the Philippine News Agency in an interview. “For me, for him, it didn’t mean anything.”
But critics of the president, including women’s groups and politicians, said the stunt was misogynistic and an abuse of power.
“It was a despicable display of sexism and grave abuse of authority,” a Philippine senator, Risa Hontiveros, said in a statement.
“Even if the act was consensual, it was the president, possessed of awesome, even intimidating power, who initiated it,” Ms. Hontiveros said. “It was not a meeting of two consenting individuals on equal terms.”
Online, both critics and supporters of the president weighed in.
“You can say that it’s unappropriate, but please don’t make up stories because no one force the lady to kiss Duterte,” wrote one Twitter user, Giselle Estacio.