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Vice Ganda apologizes for rape joke

MANILA, Philippines - Comedian Vice Ganda on Wednesday publicly apologized for a joke he made about GMA Network news anchor and executive Jessica Soho getting gang raped.

"Humihingi ako ng paumanhin. Patawad po. Kung hindi nyo ako kayang patawarin ngayon, sana mapatawad nyo ako balang araw," Ganda said in the live noontime program Showtime ABS-CBN.

Vice Ganda said that he originally wanted to personally apologize to Soho over the phone. An assistant to Soho, however, said that it was not a good time to speak with the comedian and that he need not call again.

"Kaya ngayon, gagawin kong pampubliko ito para makarating po sa inyo. Ako po ay humihingi ng paumanhin," Ganda said, addressing Soho.

He said that other famous personalities such as senators elect Grace Poe and Nancy Binay, talk show hosts Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda, and reporters Gus Abelgas and Pia Hontiveros also became subjects of his playful chiding, but admitted that he may have gone too far on his joke about Soho.

"Sigurado ako na na-offend ko si Miss Jessica Soho ... so tatanggapin ko 'yon na naka-offend ako ng tao. At kung naka-offend ka ng tao, tanggapin mo ang pagkakamali mo ... Isa sa mga pinaka-simpleng itinuro sa'kin ng mga magulang ko. 'Sinasadya mo man o hindi mo sinasadya at nakasakit ka, humingi ka ng patawad'," he said.

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The comedian, however, also attempted to put the offensive spiel in context, describing the live concert as an "enlarged comedy bar show" albeit held in a spacious 9,600-seater venue.

"Hindi ko naman po kailangan bigyang katwiran ang joke ko. Ang joke ay depende sa tao, kung paano mo tatanggapin ang joke ," Ganda said, recounting a conversation he had with ABS-CBN executive Cory Vidanes, whom he consulted on the matter.

Vice Ganda earned the ire of Soho's colleagues in GMA, ABS-CBN's rival network, for making fun of Soho's weight and size in a comedy concert "I-Vice Ganda Mo 'Ko" last May 17 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Among those who vented their resentment on Vice Ganda were reporters Maki Pulido and Jiggy Manicad as well as radio and TV anchor Arnold Clavio.

In a statement released on Tuesday Soho thanked those who openly expressed their sentiments on Vice Ganda's remarks on the show, parts of which were uploaded on video sharing site YouTube.

"Rape is not a joke and should never be material for a comedy concert. I thanked all those who shared my hurt and expressed their support, but this should not be about me but about rape victims who suffer tremendously from this terrible crime," Soho said.

Social media, meanwhile, exploded following Vice Ganda's apology on television, with his supporters praising his move using the hashtag #WeLoveViceGanda alongside trending topics "Vice Ganda" and "Jessica Soho."

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