WATCH: Iskul Bukol | Judy Taguiwalo schools Tito ‘Escalera’ Sotto after he jokes about single parents

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Social Welfare Sec. Judy Taguiwalo. Photo from cswcd.upd.edu.ph

MANILA – Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo shut down Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III’s attempt at humor when he singled out the fact that she was a solo parent at her confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments on Wednesday.

Twitter user Ralphosaur called the media’s attention to the exchange, the transcript of which follows:

Sotto: Just on the lighter side, Senator Drilon and I were looking at the personal information about you. And you have two children, daughters ba, or sons? Two daughters. Um… But you’re single?

Taguiwalo: Ah, okay, my life has never been a normal one. I never had a whole father-mother-children kind of thing, except when I was growing up in Bacolod. Remember, I graduated from UP in 1970. I did organizing work. From 1972 up to 1986, it has been a life underground or in prison. So, well, uh, my story would be different from the stories of those who have gone through, you know, UP, a corporation, etcetera.

Sotto: Meron sa, in the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag don ay ‘naano lang‘. Thank you. You have my 100 percent support, Madam Secretary.

Taguiwalo: Okay, Senator Sotto, I teach women’s studies, so, we respect all kinds of families, and that includes solo parents. Thank you.

The DSWD Secretary nevertheless had a smile on her face while replying to the senator.

Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing was suspended due to time constraints, although no lawmaker expressed their intent to oppose her appointment.

“We need principled and virtuous leaders; the Filipino people has no use for a chauvinist pig like Sotto,” said Twitter user @HathaOlga.

“I happen to know one of Sec. Judy’s daughters and I can say she was raised very well so I don’t see the point of this question,” @ohitsmiko piped in.

“Hi, po. Paki-miskol nga po utak ng tito niyo. Nawawala po eh. Thanks,” @czarxrangel added.

Sotto should apologize: Gabriela

Meanwhile, the partylist Gabriela demanded an apology from Senator Sotto for issuing a “malicious” statement during the confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The group said Sotto “went out of bounds” and insinuated malice at Taguiwalo when he remarked that the secretary was “na-ano.”  The term “na-ano” is actually just a a blanket word that literally means something — could be anything — happened to somebody, but in the context of their exchange was interpreted as referring to a woman’s being impregnated.

“Gabriela Women’s Party takes much offense, in behalf of solo parents, women raising their children amid difficult circumstances at Sen. Vicente Sotto III’s tirades as he raised questions at the CA’s hearing,” Gabriela said

“Solo parents, including the DSWD secretary should in no way be at the receiving end of such insults. We demand a public apology from the senator,” it added.

Gabriela commended Taguiwalao for standing her ground, and is supporting her confirmation.

Answers questions ‘with candor’

In a statement issued to media outlets, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said Taguiwalo expressed gratitude to supporters from different people’s organizations who held a support rally for her confirmation.

The rally was led by different groups such as Agham; Kalikasan-PNE; Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT); Liga ng Mga May Kapansanan; Gabriela; Bayan Muna; and, the  Social Welfare Employees Association (SWEAP) of the Philippines,  the union of DSWD employees.

Wednesday was the first time Taguiwalo was questioned by CA members who have previously bypassed her twice. Senators Sotto, Loren Legarda, Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson were among those who asked her questions regarding her connections with the Left, the DSWD’s programs available for recovering ex-drug dependents, and the conditional cash transfer scheme.

“I serve at the pleasure of the president. The Filipino people have seen the kind of leadership I have in the DSWD and how we work hard to help as many people as possible within the parameters of the agency’s mandate, capabilities, and means. These are all in keeping with Pres. Duterte’s orders — to ensure zero corruption, and to help the poorest of the poor as soon as possible,” she said..

She invited CA members “to help us improve our system of managing our disaster response system by coming with us to see the communities we are helping cope with the aftermath of calamities.”

WATCH NEWS5’s VIDEO REPORT ON SEN. SOTTO SAYING ‘I’M SORRY’: