Spokesman defends dishevelled Duterte as 'very hygienic'

Moscow (AFP) –


President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman on Thursday defended the Philippine leader as "very hygienic" and nice-smelling after he was mocked on social media for looking dishevelled in a meeting with the Russian prime minister.

The 74-year-old Duterte was in Russia on a working visit and sat down for the talks with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday.

In pictures of the meeting, Duterte was seen in a rumpled suit with his tie hanging loose as the two posed for pictures and shook hands.

Reacting to the photo online, Russian Twitter users jumped on Duterte's appearance.

"Was Duterte getting hammered all night?" one asked. "Did he just come back from a pub?" asked another.

In a text statement to reporters, his spokesman Salvador Panelo insisted that Duterte "does not look unkempt".

"He feels suffocated and very uncomfortable if the tie is tightly in place in the collar," Panelo said.

"The president is very hygienic. His body emits a refreshing scent as observed by people who meet up close to him."

Duterte is known as a casual dresser who has a history of turning up to international and major events in relaxed attire.

Duterte says he hates socks and claims he owns no suits and does not like formal wear because the clothes irritate his skin.

He chews gum in public, even when meeting world leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping, which he says is meant to ease pain from a spinal condition.

Duterte was set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.