Sotto sorry about single mother remark: 'It was a joke...almost everybody laughed'
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Vicente Sotto III late afternoon of Wednesday, May 3, apologized for his remark about Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo's being a single mother, but insisted that those who got offended were probably not his fans to begin with.
During the confirmation hearing of Taguiwalo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Sotto asked "on a lighter note": "You have two children...but you're single? ...In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag do'n ay na-'ano' lang (we call that, you just got knocked up)."
Taguiwalo was a martial law era activist and used to teach at the University of the Philippines.
Netizens reacted harshly to Sotto's remark, making his name trend on Twitter. They pointed out that the comedian-turned-senator has two daughters who are also single parents, and who must be offended with his remarks too.
"Na-ano" (just got knocked up) is a standard comment that hosts of the senator's noontime TV show Eat Bulaga make for fun when game contestants outside the studios turn out to be single mothers.
Sotto also tried to distinguish between a Senate hearing and a Commission on Appointments hearing to justify his remark. He said that during CA sessions, they ask "anything under the sun about a nominee."
Here is a transcript of the chance interview that Senate reporters had with Sotto after the backlash:
SOTTO: Sa CA, ang kahit anong tanong, anything under the sun about a nominee, can be asked. But that is beside the point. As I’ve said, it was meant as a joke, and everybody in the hall, almost everybody laughed. I don’t think it was done disrespectfully. But as I said, just to drive home the point, if they are offended, then I apologize.
It was just to lighten up the atmosphere?
I wish they started my interpellation eh. Because at the very start, that was what I already said. My opening statement was just to lighten up, I said, the questions or the confirmation of the secretary. That was my opening statement, they should look at the journal.
Nagiging overly sensitive lang?
Perhaps. Some people are overly sensitive perhaps or perhaps they didn’t realize it was the CA, therefore anything under the sun, even your socks, I can question. So then perhaps these are just people who are really not my fans, so to speak. Baka mga talagang pakontra sa akin 'yun, kahit ano'ng makita sa akin eh pakontra na. I don’t think Secretary Taguiwalo was offended. She was ready to answer anything under the sun also, but again that was.... As a matter of fact, 'yung premise ko pa nga, sabi ko Senator Drilon and I noticed, kaming dalawa 'yung naka-noticed dun sa personal information n'ya eh, it was in the ano eh…so what’s wrong with that?
Whatever. As I’ve said, I will be the last person in this country to disrespect a woman because my mother was one of the founders of the women’s rights movement and president emerita of the Kababaihang Rizalista. I have two daughters who are separated, who are single and have children. So I don’t think there should be any big fuss about it.
Biruan 'nyo sa 'Eat Bulaga' 'yun?
Oo, that’s why ang premise ko, ang sabi ko, in the street language. Di ba 'yun ang biruan sa kalsada eh. Kung minasama nila, eh di I’m sorry, I apologize. They don’t understand the joke.
The apology is for Taguiwalo or 'yung mga tao?
Sa lahat na, kahit sino na, oo, sa lahat na. Madali naman 'yun, basta intindihin mo lang, hindi mo naman mamasamain. Pero kung minasama nga nila eh humihingi ako ng paumanhin.