MANILA - Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Thursday blamed online "trolls" for supposedly exaggerating his controversial remark about single parents.
"Mga trolls lang nagpapalaki nyan. Hayaan mo na sila," he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
Sotto drew criticism on Wednesday after using the colloquial Tagalog phrase "na-ano lang" to describe Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo's status as a solo parent.
"In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag doon ay 'na-ano lang,'" he told Taguiwalo.
In an interview with reporters, Sotto wondered why his comments drew heavy criticism, adding that two of his daughters were also single parents.
"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," he added.
Sotto apologized to everyone who took offense with his "joke", saying some people simply did not understand it.
"Perhaps...these are just people who are not my fans so to speak (laughs). Baka mga talagang pakontra lang sa akin yan, kahit anong makita sa akin pangontra na."
"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 said.
"Madali naman 'yun kung hindi natin mamasamain. Pero kung minasama nila, humihingi ako ng paumanhin," Sotto added.
In his text message to ABS-CBN News, he also noted that the "na-ano lang" is merely a popular catch phrase.
"People have been using that statement everywhere to give a comic description if (the) husband is not present," he said.
Several netizens, one of Taguiwalo's children and the Gabriela women's party-list earlier scored Sotto for sexism and misogyny.
-- With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News