'What were they thinking?': Robredo, LP solons criticized for Holocaust Memorial photo

MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers of the Liberal Party, as well as Vice President Leni Robredo, drew flak from netizens after a photo of them posing at the holocaust memorial in Germany surfaced online.

In a photo posted by Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr, Robredo and company were seen happily posing in a memorial that honors the memories of the millions who lost their lives during the holocaust.

Also included in the photo were Liberal Party president and Senator Francis Pangilinan, Quezon City Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte, Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao, Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo, as well as former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. 

Netizens were quick to call out the photo as "disrespectful."

Holocaust Photo - Curated tweets by rapplerdotcom

Meanwhile, some defended the lawmakers saying that they weren't really doing anything demeaning to the memorial. Some said those who are critical of the said photo should also call out those who supported the hero's burial for late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Leni Robredo and company are rightly called out for their inappropriate pictorial at a holocaust memorial. Neither history nor life should be trivialized. As a matter of consistency, those who call out the group of Robredo should also say #hukayinsimarcos and #stopthekillings — Gideon Peña (@gideonpena) April 16, 2018

Baguilat was the only lawmaker who commented on the issue as of writing. On Sunday, April 15, he wrote on Twitter that they “posed at the Holocaust Memorial not to demean the place,” but he took down the photo immediately anyway “so as not to hurt sensibilities.” 

He also apologized on Monday, April 16, saying that, as human rights advocates, they “fully understand the plight experience by Jews under the Nazis and would be the last to disrespect their memory.”

Baguilat, who is critical of the government’s bloody policy against drugs, also said that he hopes that this will “make others express their outrage over the EJKs (extrajudicial killings).” 

"The blood stains on the streets are their memorial,” Baguilat said.

We, as human rights advocates, fully understand the plight experienced by Jews under the Nazis and we would be the last to disrespect their memory, in the same way that we condemn injustice anywhere in the world, including our own country. I apologize for this lapse in my post. — Teddy B. Baguilat (@TeddyBaguilatJr) April 16, 2018 As Liberals, we listen to all sorts of opinions. And we are appreciative of the countless advocates of human rights for sharing their thoughts. I hope this will make others express their outrage over the EJKs. The blood stains on the streets are their memorial. — Teddy B. Baguilat (@TeddyBaguilatJr) April 16, 2018 Victims of EJKs, slain journalists and environmental advocates, slain tribal leaders - dumaan din sila sa kanilang holocaust and each time we dismiss this as “the new normal”, tuwing tatahimik tayo, we lose our sense of humanity too. — Teddy B. Baguilat (@TeddyBaguilatJr) April 16, 2018

In a Facebook post  on Sunday, April 15, Robredo only clarified that their trip to Berlin was fully financed by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, and that no government money was used.

While taking photos for personal use at the monument is not illegal, visitors of the site are expected to avoid behavior deemed disrespectful, such as taking lighthearted photos and selfies. In January 2017, a viral project by Jewish artist Shahak Shapira shamed individuals posting selfies from the Holocaust Museum by overimposing them on graphic scenes from Auschwitz. – Rappler.com