- Senator cracked joke about DSWD Secretary’s single parenthood during CA hearing
- He explained his remark, said he did not mean to demean her or any other single parent
- He also “apologized” for statement, stressed there was no malice in his joke
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has again drawn the spotlight on himself after his attempt to crack a joke over Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s single parenthood ended flat on its face.
Sotto, a member of the Commission on Appointments, made the remark during Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing which started after he asked her about her having two daughters despite being single
“On the lighter side, Sen. Drilon and I were looking at the personal information about you and you have 2 children, daughters ba or sons? Two daughters. But you’re single,” he told her.
“My life has never been a normal one. I never had a whole mother-father-children kind of thing, except when I was growing up in Bacolod,” she responded.
Taguiwalo, a student activist during the Martial Law years, then narrated how she led a tumultuous life which would explain her marital status.
“My story will be different from the stories of those who have gone through UP, corporation, et cetera,” she said.
To this, Sotto then made his infamous quip: “In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag doon ay ‘na-ano lang.'”
His Eat Bulaga-esque earned laughter from the crowd except from Taguiwalo who remained deadpan.
“Mr. Sotto, I teach Women’s Studies so we respect all kinds of families, and that includes solo parents,” she said.
The encounter then ended with Sotto saying he’d support Taguiwalo’s confirmation.
Sorry if they didn’t get the joke
Many sectors — including women’s group Gabriela and Taguiwalo’s own daughter — took offense at Sotto’s remark which they described as an insult against single parents and demanded he apologize.
For his part, however, the solon denied he was insulting Taguiwalo and cited the case of his own mother and two daughters who are separated.
“As I 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 Kababaihang Lasalista,” he said. “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.”
Sotto also apologized to those whom he said didn’t get his joke.
“That’s why ang premise ko, in the street language. ‘Yun ang biruan sa kalsada eh. Kung minasama nila, eh ‘di I’m sorry, I apologize. They didn’t understand the joke,” he told ABS-CBN. “Madali naman ‘yun kung hindi natin mamasamain. Pero kung minasama nila, humihingi ako ng paumanhin.”
[That’s why my premise was, in the street language. That’s how they joke in the streets. If they made it malicious, then I’m sorry, I apologize. They didn’t understand the joke. It would have been easy if we didn’t put malice in it. If they put malice in it, then I apologize.]