PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III, chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, sees no need to apologize for the “stag party” that LP members had in Laguna on Thursday and infuriated Filipino netizens into starting an online petition on Saturday.
At the same time, a labor organization demanded the resignation of LP officials involved in the stag party where a group of dancers, called Playgirls, performing a racy dance with LP members on stage during the birthday of Laguna Rep. Banjamin Agarao.
The performance was recorded by a “concerned citizen” and posted on Facebook, raising a howl from netizens, who complained that the LP event was a violation of the Magna Carta of Women, or Republic Act No. 9710.
“[But] the President had nothing to do with it. The President had no idea that it was happening,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over a state-owned Radyo ng Bayan.
Although Valte admitted that the performance denigrated and debased women, she said Aquino, even if he is the LP chairman, does not share the perception of some LP members and there was no need for him to apologize for their behavior.
“The President will never condone, nor will he give approval, to any act that would denigrate our women, that would debase them or contribute to such an indignity. We all saw that, whether private event or public event, you know that that is not the perception of the President,” she said.
But a group of netizens started a petition on Change.org demanding that Aquino take responsibility as the head of state and party chairman.
“The entertainment at a Liberal Party oath taking ceremony and attended by government officials presented women as sexual objects,” the petition read.
“Despite Malacañang [through Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma] and MMDA Chief Francis Tolentino’s denial that the women performers were his ‘gift’ to the host, eyewitness accounts from the media who were present proved otherwise,” the petition read.
“According to news reports, there were minors in the audience,” the group added.
“This unfortunate but deplorable incident merits an apology from your office as Head of State and as Chair of the Liberal Party on whose name this event was held,” the organization said.
The group demanded that Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Tolentino and Agarao, who were allegedly present, should be investigated and be “held liable if proven guilty.”
“Government officials, specifically, Secretary Mar Roxas, MMDA Chief Francis Tolentino and Congressman Benjamin Agarao who were present and may have acted either in acquiescence or as purveyors of this deplorable act should be investigated and be held liable if proven guilty,” the group said.
The group said Section 19 of the Magna Carta of Women clearly states that the portrayal of women in a discriminatory, demeaning and/or derogatory manner in advertisements, shows and programs is not allowed. Women should always be portrayed and represented with dignity.
“While the President is chairman of the Liberal Party, I think we should let the part act and they have actually said that they will conduct their own investigation,” Valte said.
Meanwhile, the labor group Public Services Labor Independent Confederation threatened to file a case with the Ombudsman against Tolentino, who earlier announced his intention to run for senator in the 2016 elections, for allegedly violating the Magna Carta of Women.
“Will you vote for a man that will resort to immoral and unethical means to propel his political ambitions? Hopeless!,” the group stated. “And so we reiterate our call, Francis Tolentino, resign! You have no business in MMDA when you are busy campaigning.”
The group said while he is not working in MMDA, Tolentino is attending Liberal Party sorties and induction of local officials.
“How callous and gauche of you, while we taxpayers continue with our mundane tasks of commuting and getting stuck in traffic, you have the liberty of joining birthday parties in your official time as the MMDA chairman.”
PSLink president Annie Geron said many provisions of RA 9710 were violated in the performance of the dance group.
Tolentino has denied any involvement in bringing the group Playgirls to Agarao’s birthday party at the congressman’s home in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
The birthday celebration was held after the induction of new Liberal Party members and incumbent local officials in the province, which was presided by Roxas.
During the program, the master of ceremony acknowledged Tolentino as the one who sponsored the sexy female group as a “surprise gift” to Agarao.
Tolentino said he was just a guest at the said birthday party and Agarao is a long-time friend.
Despite the call for his resignation, Tolentino said he will submit his resignation “at the right time” and it is up to President Benigno Aquino III if he should remain in his post.