House ‘reprimands’ Bertiz over viral NAIA video
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives passed a motion to “reprimand” ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz over his controversial video at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Lawmakers voted 159-1-3 on the motion of House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez for the House to reprimand Bertiz on Wednesday, October 10.
“In response to the manifestation of Representative Bertiz, I respectfully move that the penalty to be imposed on him with regard to his offense should be [a] reprimand. As far as I know, this is his first offense. He already admitted his mistake and has profusely apologized for his conduct. The punishment must commensurate the act,” said Suarez.
“Hence, any form of punishment greater than a reprimand such as a suspension is severe and inappropriate. So moved that Congressman Bertiz be reprimanded,” he added.
Suarez made the motion immediately after Bertiz delivered a privilege speech, where he apologized to the public, his colleagues at the House, and his family after a video of Bertiz confronting a NAIA security checker went viral online.
Section 140, Rule XIX on the Code of Conduct of the Rules of the House says lawmakers may "censure or reprimand an erring member with the concurrence of the majority of all its members."
An appeal to spare his family
In his speech, Bertiz said his two daughters have received rape and other lewd threats online, with some social media users calling them as "prostitutes." He said his son was also accused of being a drug addict.
"Bilang ama, labis akong nasaktan sa dinanas na ito ng aking mga anak. Bilang pulitiko, tayo ay bukas sa mga batikos ng taumbayan. Tanggap natin yun kahit na masasakit na salita ang ibato sa atin. Kasama yun sa ating trabaho. Pero sana man lang ay hindi na nadamay pa ang aking pamilya. Sino ba namang ama ang nagnanais nito?" said Bertiz.
(As a father, I am deeply pained for what my children are going through. As a politician, we are open to criticisms from the public. We can accept even hurtful words thrown at us. That's part of our job. But don't involve my family. Is there any father who would want this?)
He asked the public to spare his family.
"Ako ang parusahan ninyo, huwag na po ang aking pamilya. Ang aking asawa at mga anak, wala po silang kinalaman dito (Punish me, not my family. My wife and children have nothing to do with this). You cannot even imagine what I & my family have to go through. Do what you want to me, but please spare my family," said Bertiz.
He once again apologized for his behavior at NAIA.
"Makailang ulit po akong nagpaumanhin sa aking nagawa. Isa iyong pagkakamali na aking lubos na pinagsisihan. I offer no excuses. Ngunit hayaan po ninyo ako muli na humingi ng paumanhin [sa security screener], sa aking pamilya, sa publiko, sa inyo mga kapwa ko mambabatas, at sa institusyong ito," said Bertiz.
(I have apologized many times. That was a mistake I regret. I offer no excuses. But let me say sorry once again to the security screener, my family, the public, to you my fellow lawmakers, and to this institution.)
Bertiz was seen wiping tears as lawmakers comforted him after his privilege speech.
One gaffe after another
Bertiz was hospitalized on October 2 to undergo a series of laboratory and stress tests. His chief of staff Francisco Aguilar Jr told Rappler that Bertiz, who had angioplasty surgery last year, had been suffering several symptoms due to “stress” over the backlash from his viral video.
Bertiz already apologized for his behavior at NAIA, but he likened the way he acted to a woman going through her menstrual cycle. He drew more flak from lawmakers and social media users alike, who told him his statement was “demeaning to women.” He later said sorry to women for making this remark.
The lawmaker was also criticized for cracking an "inappropriate" joke that the new batch of agricultural and biosystems engineers would not get their respective licenses from the Professional Regulation Commission if they would not say they knew Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
The lawmaker also said sorry over a 3rd video, which social media users have revived following the backlash over the two incidents involving Bertiz. In the 3rd video, Bertiz was in a heated exchange with a leader of a community of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong in January 2017.
Bertiz accused OFW leader Eman Villanueva of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong Migrante HK of being an undocumented worker and for failing to fight for OFWs' rights.
The lawmaker is now facing an ethics complaint filed against him by a former OFW who was recruited by Global Asia Alliance Consultants Incorporated, the recruitment agency formerly run by Bertiz. The embattled legislator also filed an ethics complaint against himself. – Rappler.com