Liberal Party gets flak for lewd show at Laguna event

October 2, 2015

New_Liberal_Party_(Philippines)_LogoWomen’s groups are up in arms over the use of scantily clad women for entertainment, reportedly as a “surprise birthday gift” from Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino to Laguna Cong. Benjamin Agarao Jr.

The purported “gift” was presented during Agarao’s 58th birthday celebration which coincided with an oath-taking activity of Liberal Party members in Laguna.

“Despite Tolentino’s denials, the fact remains that he was not appalled by the incident and did not have the decency to stop the show when it was obviously becoming lewd. Even Cong. Agarao did not find anything wrong with the show and obviously enjoyed it. What is worse is that the Liberal Party condoned such objectification of women. The fact that LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas graced the event means it was a major LP affair,” said Joms Salvador, secretary-general of Gabriela, a national women’s alliance.

Nakakagalit ang ginawang paggamit ng katawan ng kababaihan sa politikal na pagtitipon ng Partido ni Pangulong Aquino. Di pa man nagsisimula ang opisyal na kampanya, itinataguyod na nito ang estilo ng pang-aabuso sa kababaihan (The use of women’s bodies in a political gathering of the party of President Aquino is enraging. Election campaign season has yet to start, but this party is already using this gimmick that is abusive of women),” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi de Jesus.

Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party called on the public to shun candidates that use such gimmicks. The groups also said Tolentino, Agarao and other local LP members present in the show may be held liable for violating the Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women Act.

The event was an oath-taking activity for new LP members in Laguna. It was officiated by no less than LP presidential standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas III himself. After the oath-taking, a birthday celebration for Agarao commenced.

Tolentino denied that he paid for the act as a “surprise gift” to Agarao. This despite reporters revealing that the MMDA chairman was “near the emcee” when the latter announced that the next performance by a group of scantily clad, dancing women was a “surprise gift” from Tolentino.

After a provocative dance number, the group proceeded to do “parlour games”, where audience members, some of whom were LP members, participated in sexually provocative poses with the women dancers.

In a statement posted in the LP website, the “(w)omen of the Liberal Party (Representatives Henedina R. Abad, Josephine Sato and Kaka Bag-ao)” admitted that the performace was a “gross insult” to the women involved, as well as to LP and “all Filipinos and Filipinas who espouse equality”.

It also said that “such gimmickry will not be tolerated by our members and our leadership, and we fully support the investigation to unearth the truth behind the incident.”

A perusal of the all-female dance group’s Facebook page, however, revealed that several LP politicians previously availed of the group’s services. Among them was Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, brother of the MMDA chairman.

Other politicians who hired the group during the 2013 electoral campaigns were Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito (UNA), Malabon Rep. Jaye Lacson-Noel (NPC), Montalban Mayor Elyong Hernandez (LP), San Rafael, Bulacan Mayor Goto Violago (LP) and Vice Mayor Edison Veneracion (LP).

Screencap from the all-female group's FB page

The FB page also indicates that the group performed for Customs Deputy Commissioner Toto Suansing’s birthday party.

In its Facebook page, the dancing group also performed in an official activity of the Philippine Marines, as well as in a reunion of members of the Presidential Security Group, which is the military unit tasked to secure the Philippine president.

From the all-female group's FB page

From the all-female group’s FB page

At an event of the Philippine Marines. Photo grabbed from the all-female group's FB page.

At an event of the Philippine Marines. Photo grabbed from the all-female group’s FB page.

De Jesus said that such exploitative practices are not exclusive to LP or to the all-female group involved in the Laguna LP affair. “We call on the Filipino people especially women to forsake politicians and political parties that promote the long standing practice of 4Gs – Guns, Goons, Gold and Girls,” de Jesus added.