Tito Sotto reacts to 'victim-blaming' issue on 'Eat Bulaga'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III has responded to some netizens' criticism over his "victim-blaming" remarks on Eat Bulaga.

Sotto, who is also one of the main hosts of the noontime show, was perceived to  have made offensive remarks directed toward a winner of the "Juan For All, All For Juan" segment aired on July 9.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, published July 21, Sotto added: "Eh kasi pinagbintangan daw siya (Because they were blaming her) that she had a relation with one of the men. That's all. That's the context.

"I don't know where their story came from na napahiya raw iyong babae (that the girl was embarrassed). Siya nagkukuwento noon (She was telling that story).  So what are they saying. There's no more freedom of expression or freedom of speech?

"What I was looking at really was there should be a preservation of institution of marriage. When you're married, you act like a married man or a married woman."

Sotto also said that many social media users have been posting versions of the episode that are edited to put him in a bad light.

Asked for comment, the senator previously told Rappler via text message: "Watch [the] episode. Some netizens who commented did not even watch it."

Sotto continued: "It was a simple reaction saying that a married lady should not be out at night having shots (or drinking) with men other than her husband. Talagang mapapagbintangan ka (You will really be blamed)."

"That's [the] context. What's wrong with that?" he added.

During the episode in question, the segment winner shared how her male friend had taken advantage of her when she was drunk. 

As seen in a video clip, Sotto then suggested the woman shouldn't have been drinking in the first place: "Kasalanan ng lahat ng 'yan ng pag-inom... Kababae mong tao pa-shot-shot ka (That's all because of drinking. You're woman and you're doing shots?)"

Host Jose Manalo added: "Anong suot mo? Naka-shorts ka, 'no? (What were you wearing? You were in shorts, weren't you?)"

After receiving complaints from several netizens, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) have summoned Eat Bulaga executives for a conference scheduled on July 21.

While Sotto said that he was initially unaware of this development with the MTRCB, he welcomes the upcoming dialogue. "Anyway, it's a welcome development if MTRCB looks into [the] matter. They will see that I was merely moralizing for the protection of [the] institution of marriage. Thanks for [the] heads up," he said.

He also later told ABS-CBN that he would be attending this meeting. "I will attend sa dialogue ng MTRCB. We will explain and we will ask them what's wrong.

"First thing na itatanong ko sa (I would ask) MTRCB, when there are complaints, don't you ask the complainant to come and explain what their complaint and what is the reason for their complainant?"

Sotto's remarks did not sit well with some people, who aired their views on social media. They said it was a way of "promoting rape culture" and "victim-blaming" (as quoted in the Inquirer), as well as misogynism. – with reports from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com