PH embassy in Israel denies involvement in Christmas party strip show

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine embassy in Israel denied involvement in organizing a Christmas party for Filipinos in Israel which drew flak after photos and videos of the event showing a strip show were posted online. 

Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial issued a statement in defense of two embassy officials he had sent to represent him at the gathering, where he had been invited.

"The Embassy had no hand in that Filipino community event, and calls on everyone to assist in stopping the spread of fake news that may have a detrimental effect on the image of Filipinos in Israel,” the embassy said in a statement sent to the media on Thursday, January 4. 

On Monday, January 1, netizen Niño Ruelo Barzaga post photos from the Christmas party on Facebook, showing a male stripper doing a lap dance with a woman in front of a crowd. In the post, Barzaga questioned why the embassy officials allowed such show. 

MALAKI KABASTUSAN ITO SA MGA OFW BAKIT DI SINITA NG MGA OFFICIAL NG ISRAEL EMBASSY OF THE PHILIPPINES (sic)’ he wrote in the caption.

The post went viral, getting more than 2,500 shares on Facebook as of writing. 

In response, Imperial issued the clarificatory statement of the embassy, noting that the embassy was only invited to the gathering and was not among the organizers.

"In the context of the work we do to protect and promote the welfare of Filipino workers in Israel, the Embassy finds such performances highly offensive, and the spread of unverified information deeply disturbing,” the embassy said. 

The embassy said Consul Reichel Quinones and Cultural Attache Geraldine Gamoso, attended the party in Haifa, which was organized by 3 Filipino organizations, and were unaware that the program included a strip show. They walked out when the controversial performance started.

"I should note that my officers, who I asked to represent me in the event, did the proper thing by walking out of the venue and calling the attention of the organizers about the distasteful performance," Imperial said in a Facebook post on January 4, where he shared the embassy's official statement on the incident.

The embassy said that it has called the attention of the organizers and asked them to provide an explanation in writing. 

"The Embassy has since received complaints from Filipinos who attended the party, and we are taking action on those complaints now," the embassy added. – Rappler.com