MANILA - Coco Martin has finally spoken up on the controversy surrounding the recent Bench fashion show wherein he was made to walk with a woman on a leash in tow.
In a statement read on "Aquino & Abunda Tonight" by host Kris Aquino on Monday, Martin said he was saddened by the turn of events following his appearance at "The Naked Truth" last September 20.
Held at the Mall of Asia Arena, the big event featured hundreds of models, including several big-name stars taking turns on the runway in Bench denim and underwear.
"Honestly po, sobra akong nalungkot sa mga nangyari," he said.
Martin's solo spot, which also had him put a rope around the woman's neck before kissing her on the lips, has become the subject of criticisms from groups and politicians.
Women's party-list group Gabriela referred to the performance as "a disturbing throwback to concepts of enslaving and subjugating women to male fantasies."
The Philippine Commission on Women, meanwhile, said the act "dehumanizes and demeans the dignity of women, treating their bodies as mere sex objects and commodities."
In his statement, Martin admitted he failed to properly assess what his act in the show could mean, and asked for forgiveness and understanding from those who were offended.
"Inaamin ko po ang naging pagkukulang ko," he said. "Dala narin po sa pagod sa araw-araw na trabaho, hindi ko nakita ang malalim na kahalugan ng pinagawa sa akin sa Bench fashion show."
Martin added: "Humihingi po ako ng patawad at pag-intindi sa mga kinauukulan, kasama ang pangako na magiging mas sensitibo ako sa mga isyung may patungkol sa karapatang pantao ang pangkababaihan."
Addressing Aquino in his text message, Martin continued: "Alam mo kung gaano kahalaga sa akin ang lola, ang mommy ko, at mga kapatid kong babae. Hindi ko magagawang tahasang mang-insulto ng babae sa anumang paraan."
The "Ikaw Lamang" actor ended his statement by assuring that he has lessons learned from the controversy, foremost of which is the responsibility attached to his job.
Entrepreneur Ben Chan, the founder of Bench, has issued a public apology to Martin "for involving him in the controversial scene."
"More importantly," Chan added, "we also apologise for offending the sensitivities of some persons. We assure you that we shall always endeavor to uphold the dignity of people."