MANILA - The controversial remarks Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said towards a female winner of an "Eat Bulaga" segment last July 9 are "clear examples of victim blaming and shaming," according to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).
The commission, in a statement, said Sotto and the other hosts of the noontime show "crossed the line" when they implied that it was the fault of the contestant, identified as Katrina Conde, that she was taken advantage of by a male friend because she was drunk.
The organization criticized the hosts for having "hastily indicted and stereotyped [the] female contestant who previously went through various kinds of abuses."
Conde, a solo parent of four children, was asked to share the reasons behind her separation from her estranged husband. She recalled how she was allegedly abused by a male drinking buddy, which resulted in the split.
Her confession prompted Sotto and his co-hosts to suggest that a woman should not be drinking, criticizing Conde's choice of clothing by telling her: "Naka-shorts habang nagsho-shot?"
"These are clear examples of victim blaming and shaming which can be likened to fault-finding against rape and sexual harassment victims who were blamed for wearing sexy outfits, getting drunk or walking alone in dark streets," the PCW explained.
"Women should never carry the guilt and blame and likewise restrict their freedom and desires. Women should live equally with men."
In a text message sent to online news website Rappler, Sotto defended his remarks, saying that a married lady should not be out at night having shots with other men other than her husband. "That's [the] context. What's wrong with that?" he said.
The PCW reminded the hosts of "Eat Bulaga" that "while they may have good intentions in giving advice, the program should also be cautious and ensure that they are not exposing the victim to further harm and vulnerability."
"...The program hosts should realize that their language and actions will have an effect on how their viewers think and act. Hence, they should be more conscientious in what they say and do, so as not to reinforce gender biases in our society."
The PCW concluded by urging the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ensure that the issue will be resolved in a manner that upholds the dignity of women.
The MTRCB has already summoned the producers and creative heads of "Eat Bulaga" regarding Sotto and their hosts' controversial remarks. An inquiry has been scheduled on Thursday.