Backlash against PUV driver party-list representative’s Balesin wedding

Claudine Bautista, the representative for PUV driver party-list, Drivers United for Mass Progress and Equal Rights (DUMPER), is under fire for getting married in luxury destination Balesin Island Resort in Polilio, Quezon.

The wedding came into the public’s attention after fashion designer Michael Cinco, who had designed the gown for Bautista, published photos of the bride and the groom on an Instagram post geo-tagged in Balesin on Wednesday, August 11.

Event designer Gideon Hermosa was also providing a look at the venue showing photos and videos of the dressed-up Balesin Marquee. 

Cinco’s post is currently locked from being commented on.

The negative public sentiment against the representative is most pronounced on a Twitter thread by user @deedeeholliday_, which has seen almost 2,400 retweets and almost 8,000 likes. 

In a post collating the Cinco and Hermosa Instagram posts, a campaign photo for DUMPER, and a screenshot of a Facebook post showing the difficulties drivers face during the pandemic, the user said, “Drivers and Commuters Rep who voted NO to ABS-CBN franchise got married in a Michael Cinco gown in a lavish peony-filled ceremony in Balesin in the middle of a pandemic.”

Bautista is among the 70 representatives who rejected ABS-CBN’s franchise in July 2020.

Many of the users echoed Dee Dee’s tweet, expressing their anger at the representative for holding an extravagant event especially during the pandemic, and for a perceived failing of the party-list system that was supposed to give better representation in the legislative for marginalized groups. 

“Sorry to say this pero minsan ginagamit na lang mga pulitiko ang [party-list] para manatili sa kanilang mga pribilehiyo at kapangyarihan ngunit wala naman talagang maayos na representasyon ng mga marhinisadong sektor,” said one user. 

(Sorry to say this but sometimes politicians use the party-list system to maintain privilege and power, and marginalized sectors continue to be not represented properly.)

A photo has also surfaced showing guests such as Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, San Miguel president Ramon Ang, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

A number of users, on the other hand, defended Bautista, saying that the family and her husband have the financial capability to hold the event. But netizens point out that it was still insensitive to hold the event given the current pandemic. 

The law does state that government officials should lead simple lives. 

“Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form,” Republic Act No. 6713, the act establishing the code of conduct and ethics for public officials, states. 

The DUMPER partylist Facebook page made a post about its vaccination drive in Davao, about 6 hours after the Dee Dee Holliday tweet, which had also said “How ostentatious. May vaccination drive ba [siya] for drivers and commuters?” (Does she have a vaccination drive for drivers and commuters?)

Some celebrities, such as Pokwang, Ogie Diaz, and Enchong Dee also reacted to the incident on Twitter. Agot Isidro criticized the purchase of the gown, saying “That gown alone can feed hundred of families of displaced drivers. And you’re representing which sector again, Cong. Claudine Bautista?”  – Rappler.com 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.

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