Women lawyers to Liberal Party: Discipline your own ranks

Carmela Andal-Castro, Nina Patricia Sison-Arroyo

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'If they can do that shamelessly in the light of day, who knows what they are up to in the shadows?'

As mothers, lawyers, and advocates for children and women, we are enraged and disgusted with the recent “sexy dance gift” reportedly given by MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino to Laguna representative and Liberal Party mfember Benjamin Agarao, Jr in celebration of his birthday and 40th anniversary in service.

The mere thought of a public official giving such a “gift” to a fellow official is reprehensible. To do such a thing in a public gathering is plainly obscene, vulgar, and sickening beyond words. If they can do that shamelessly in the light of day, who knows what they are up to in the shadows?

We cannot express enough indignation over these government officials’ twisted sense of judgment and lack of refinement.  Their actions and sorry excuses betray their exploitative, ungentlemanly, and crass way of thinking; one that is clearly unworthy of respect.  

To the Liberal Party officials whose idea of entertainment is a floor show by a public officer simulating sex in front of young and old, and to those who even defended it as normal by provincial sortie standards, we pity your mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters.

It is an unwitting revelation of your depravity, profanity and lack of respect for women. It perpetuates the archaic but sadly still present frame of mind that women are sex objects and it is perfectly acceptable to use them as sources of amusement for men.

Such commodification of women must not be tolerated. It is the same mentality that leads to commercial sexual exploitation of women. Hundreds of thousands of women are reportedly trafficked for prostitution in the Philippines. While there may be several factors that lead to that, the theory of supply and demand tells us that prostitution is fuelled by the customers who patronize it.  

And what are customers made of? Not snips and snails and puppy dog tails but the same nasty stuff that boils over into gender discrimination in its many forms.    

To the leadership of the Liberal Party, the nation is watching and waiting for how you will discipline your own ranks. If you do not purge yourself of those responsible for that lewd and offensive show, shame on you. How can you stomach standing alongside them while you tout “daang matuwid”? What a bane on your credibility. You might as well call yourselves the “Libertine Party.”

To Representative Agarao, we are hopeful that your conception of being “lalaking-lalaki (masculine)” is not representative of the mindset of the fathers, brothers, husbands and sons of our nation. Surely you will not chastise us for holding you up against a standard which may seem lofty but is actually a matter of basic decency.  Is it not a nod to your manhood that we refuse to equate your being a man to just the basest of instincts?

To the women and men of our country who believe in human dignity and equality, let us not sit idly by when decency and respect are trivialized. We owe it to our children and our children’s children to speak up and call out what is wrong. By our silence we blur the line between good and evil. – Rappler.com

Lawyer Nina Patricia Sison-Arroyo is a professor of the Ateneo Law School and a private individual member of the board of the Council for the Welfare of Children.  She is also a member of the board of directors of International Justice Mission, a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world. She is a graduate of Ateneo Law School, Class 1997.

Lawyer Carmela-Andal Castro is managing director of Consuelo Foundation, a philanthropic organization that promotes the wellbeing of children and prevents their abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  She sits as trustee to various non-profit organizations and is a volunteer lawyer for the Child Protection Unit of the Philippine General Hospital. She is a graduate of UP College of Law, Class 2000.

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