MANILA - The head of the Senate ethics body is now facing a complaint himself.
Several women's and workers’ groups on Wednesday filed an ethics complaint against Senator Vicente Sotto III for allegedly discriminating against solo parents with his “na-ano lang” remark during the confirmation hearing of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
Sotto, chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, welcomed the complaint and said: “We live in a democracy. We have a freedom of speech, we have freedom of expression, we have freedom of the press, we have freedom to waste our time.”
He said he would go on leave from his committee as soon as he receives the complaint officially.
Groups that complained against Sotto were the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, World March of Women Pilipinas, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, Partido Manggagawa, Sarilaya, Lilak, and Sentro.
“Ang aming ipinaglaban na batas para sa pagtatanggol, pagprotekta sa mga kababaihan ay hindi dapat binabalewala. Lalo na ng mga pinuno sa ating pamahalaan, lalo na ng mga lehislador na dapat ay nauuwanan ang mga batas na ito,” said Jean Enriquez, coordinator of the World March of Women.
The groups said they are not affiliated with the Federation of Solo Parents in Luzvimin, which met with Sotto yesterday.
Sotto has since apologized for his remark, which Taguiwalo accepted, but the groups insisted it wasn’t sincere.
They said there have been many instances where Sotto has insulted women on his noontime variety show, citing one incident when the lawmaker, also a comedian, blamed a woman for experiencing sexual harassment while drinking with her male friends.
The groups also reprimanded the other members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) who did not reprove Sotto.
They recommended all Senators and their staff to undergo gender sensitivity training of the Philippine Commission on Women.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, vice chair of the ethics committee, said the complainants should clarify with their legal team what they want to happen.
“Parang gusto niyang sakupin lahat ng tumawa eh, lahat ng nag-react na tumawa, gusto i-ethics din. Buti na lang hindi ako tumawa kasi hindi ko naririnig,” he said.
“Dapat yung buong context ng questioning ang tingnan natin. [Kung] may jurisdiction ba yung senate ethics dun sa actuation ng senador acting as a CA member," he said.
-- with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News