MANILA, Philippines – Women lawmakers of the Liberal Party (LP) condemned the lewd performance at the birthday party of an administration lawmaker on Thursday, October 1, saying the “gimmick” was inconsistent with the values of the ruling coalition.
“This has never been, and will never be consistent with the values of the Liberal Party, which, throughout the years, has made social equity one of the pillars of its endeavors,” Representatives Henedina Abad, Josephine Sato, and Kaka Bag-ao said in a statement on Friday, October 2.
They also asked the party to investigate the incident and make “accountable” the party mates behind it.
They added that the performance was a “gross insult” to the dancers, the LP, and “all Filipinos and Filipinas who espouse equality.”
On Thursday, photos and videos circulated online showing female dancers from the group Playgirls performing raunchy dance moves with several male members of the audience.
The performance was held after an LP event at the house of Laguna 4th District Representative Benjamin Agarao.
The dancers were hired to perform at Agarao’s birthday party, held right after the oathtaking of 80 local LP officials. The party’s standard-bearer, Manuel Roxas II, led the oathtaking, but was not present when the controversial dance began onstage.
Netizens quickly criticized Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, following reports that the dancers were Tolentino’s “gift” to those who attended the event.
But Tolentino, who earlier announced that he will be running for a Senate seat under the LP banner, denied that he brought the dancers. Agarao also denied that it was Tolentino, adding that it was likely that one of his friends had paid for the performance.
In a statement on Friday, Roxas said he would not tolerate the exploitation of women, and reminded LP members not to resort to gimmickry.
Make them accountable
Bag-ao, LP Vice President for Women and representative of Dinagat Islands, also called on the LP to conduct an investigation.
“Walang puwang sa Daang Matuwid ang pagyurak sa dignidad ng kababaihan. (The exploitation of women has no place in the straight path.) The Liberal Party leadership must conduct a serious investigation on the incident in Laguna so that persons responsible for disrespecting and objectifying women will be held accountable,” she said.
Meanwhile, activist group Akbayan Youth called on all political parties to ban “lewd and sexist shows” that degrade women in their campaign sorties.
“So-called entertainment which treat women as objects to satisfy men’s libido have no place in any political campaign or public functions. They are not and should never be considered as entertainment,” Akbayan Youth Chairperson Rafaela David said.
She added, “Women are partners in social and political change. They deserve respect and recognition not humiliation.”
The group also called on the LP to instead “rise to the occasion” and advance a discussion on women’s issues. David noted that the LP had been one of the groups backing the Reproductive Health law, the passage of which was hailed by women’s rights advocates.
“Our country has already made great strides in passing the Magna Carta of Women and the Reproductive Health Law. Clearly, however, there is still much to be done in terms of ensuring that women receive the proper respect and treatment they deserve,” David said.
“We are optimistic that the Liberal Party sees, as we do, that women have a right to fully participate in politics, not as dancers, but as citizens and leaders,” she added. – Katerina Francisco/Rappler.com