Taguiwalo defends solo parents vs. Sotto tirade

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Tito Sotto III is in hot water for his "malicious" comments on solo parents.

During the Commission on Appointments hearing of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Sotto attempted to shift the focus on a "lighter" topic.

"You have two children? Two daughters ba o sons?," to which she replied she has daughters.

He, then, followed up with, "but you're single?"

Taguiwalo, a single mother of two children, explained that she doesn't consider her personal life as a typical family set-up.

"I never had a father-mother-children kind of thing except when I was growing up in Bacolod... My story would be different from stories of those who have gone through...," she said.

Deviating from her story, Sotto tried to explain what to call a person who raises children on their own.

"In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag dun e, 'na-ano lang,'" he said.

Taguiwalo, a champion for gender equality and women empowerment, replied that as a professor, she respects all kinds of families.

Amidst the laughter in the room, Taguiwalo calmly said, "Senator Sotto, I teach women studies. So, we respect all kinds of families and that includes solo parents."

Despite this, Sotto he gives his 100 percent support to the secretary.

Sotto: Sorry if they feel offended

In an interview after the hearing, Sotto said he believes Taguiwalo was not offended by his remarks.

"She was ready to answer anything under the sun. I don't think there should be a big fuss about it," he said.

He also defended himself, saying he does not disrespect women.

"I will be the last person in this country to disrespect a woman because my mother was one of the founders of the Women's Rights Movement. I have two daughters who are separated, single, and have children," he said.

Sotto is also the Chairman of the Senate committee on ethics.

Gabriela demands apology for 'insinuating malice'

Gabriela Women's Party demanded an apology from Sotto for insulting solo parents.

"The senator clearly went out of bounds, insinuating malice at Taguiwalo who raised her two children as a solo parent, dubbing such as 'na-ano,'" it said in a statement.

Gabriela also commended the secretary for standing her ground despite the insults Sotto hurled at her.

"She is an inspiration to marginalized women," it said.

This is not the first time Sotto found himself in hot water for comments against women.

During his noontime show in July 2016, a female contestant confessed to the TV hosts that she was taken advantage by a male drinking buddy.

Sotto, also a TV host, replied, "Naka-shorts habang nagsho-shot?"

The Philippine Commission on Women said these comments from Sotto are clear examples of victim blaming and shaming.

This story was updated on May 4, 2017 to add Sotto's quote