Sotto hit over ‘single mom’ remark

Janvic Mateo, Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Netizens and women’s groups bashed Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III for his remarks about Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo being a single mother during the Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing at the Senate yesterday.

A slew of criticisms on social media sites were directed against Sotto for using the phrase na-ano lang to describe single mothers like Taguiwalo.

Women’s group Gabriela called on Sotto to publicly apologize for insinuating malice.

Sotto apologized to anyone who might have been offended by his joke, saying people were overly sensitive and did not get his punch line.

“I don’t think Secretary Taguiwalo was offended. She was ready to answer anything under the sun,” he said.

The senator said he would be the last person to say anything disrespectful against women, noting his mother was one of the founders of the women’s rights movement.

The flak stemmed from Sotto’s asking Taguiwalo about her having two daughters although she is single.

Taguiwalo, a martial law activist, said “her life has never been a normal one,” citing her experience in the underground movement and spending time in prison.

Eliciting laughter from the gallery, Sotto replied: “In street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag do’n ay na-ano lang."

A transcript of the exchange posted by Facebook user Raphael Phoebus Ubales went viral.

More than 13,000 users reacted furiously, along with some 300 comments that were mostly critical of the senator.

On Twitter, “Tito Sotto” became the top trending topic in the Philippines and was among the top 10 worldwide.

“Who would have thought a senator would shame a single mother in public?” one tweet said.

“Sen. Sotto’s remarks to DSWD Sec. Judy is beyond disgrace. Rude. Insensitive. Cringe-worthy,” said another.

Lea Salonga joined women’s rights advocates in condemning Sotto.

“For much of my growing-up years, my mother was a single mother. I curse anyone and everyone that sees women like her as ‘less than’,” Salonga said on her Twitter account. – With Helen Flores


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