MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday, November 25, criticized a number of lawmakers who grilled Senator Leila de Lima's former driver and boyfriend, Ronnie Dayan, about his 7-year love affair with the senator at a congressional inquiry.
"Parang nangyari talaga, slut-shaming. Pambabastos talaga (What really happened was slut-shaming. It was really disrespectful)," Robredo said in an interview with reporters Friday.
Robredo, a women's rights advocate, said she considers some of these questions "a form of harassment."
A former lawmaker herself, the Vice President added that these questions "have no relevance" to the investigation being conducted.
Robredo was referring to the hearing of the House committee on justice on Thursday, November 24, about the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when De Lima was justice secretary.
Instead of focusing on the issue, however, male lawmakers spent much of the hearing asking Dayan about details of his love affair with De Lima seen as irrelevant to the objective of the inquiry. (READ: 'Kailan kayo nag-climax?': Nonsense questions at the Bilibid drugs hearing)
Rappler listed the following congressmen who asked personal and unnecessary questions about De Lima and Dayan's love affair:
Higher standard for lawmakers
In her interview with reporters, Robredo was asked if this is how lawmakers should treat a woman. The Vice President answered: "Hindi. Hindi talaga." (No. Definitely not.)
She explained that this behavior is unexpected from lawmakers and ordinary people as well. She said lawmakers, however, should be held to a higher standard because "they are supposed to represent us."
She said she is pertaining to the plight of "women in general."
Robredo, who belongs to the Liberal Party like De Lima, added, "Wala naman akong problema na si Senator De Lima is being put on trial, kasi kung may mga kailangan sagutin, panagutan (I don't have a problem about Senator De Lima being put on trial, because if there things that need to be answered, one should be answerable)."
"Pero 'yung klase kasi ng mga tanong, talagang bordering on the malicious. Ang sabi ko nga, slut-shaming, na wala namang lugar sa institusyon na ganoon (But the types of questions are really bordering on the malicious. As I said, it's slut-shaming, which has no place in an institution like that)," she added.
Robredo was not alone in her observation. Nany netizens called out the lawmakers for giving more weight to inconsequential details about De Lima's past relationship with Dayan over questions that would prove allegations that the former justice chief is linked to illegal drugs. (READ: Netizens on Dayan, De Lima questions: 'Papa Jack,' crossing the line)
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.