The Philippine Star

‘Mongoloid’ remark aimed at corrupt pols, says Miriam


Advocates and parents of persons with disabiliti­es ( PWDs), specifical­ly were not at all amused by Sen. Miriam Defensor- Santiago’s use of the word “mongoloid” to describe corrupt politician­s.

Several groups have gone to social for supposedly being insensitiv­e and for violating Republic Act 9442 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabiliti­es.

It all started when several media outlets reported Santiago’s tirade against her critics during a weekly forum at the Senate, particular­ly politician­s who have either called for her resignatio­n or her national Criminal Court.

One particular quote of Santiago “Stop molesting me, you mongoloids!” was, as expected, highlighte­d by news reports.

Tony Pasia, president of the Down Syndrome Associatio­n of the Philippine­s Inc., even wrote a letter addressed to Santiago, demanding an apology from her for using the word “mongoloid,” which is deemed politicall­y incorrect and unacceptab­le.

In response to the backlash against her, Santiago wrote a letter to Pasia, a copy of which was furnished to the media yesterday, saying it was not her intention to ridicule PWDs when she made the quip about “mongoloids.”

“If there was any public ridicule and any PWD, but at corrupt politician­s. It is unfair and misguided to charge me with intent to violate the law, when my intent Santiago said.

In fact, Santiago said she was merely winning book “A Confederac­y of Dunces” written by John Kennedy Toole, which repeatedly used the word “mongoloid.”

“While he was still alive and until repeatedly using the word ‘mongoloid’ in his funny lines,” she said.

Santiago argued that legally speaking, her statement was covered by the constituti­onal guarantee of freedom of speech and as such, is protected from criminal liability.

She said freedom of speech and press generally means immunity from prior restraint, also known as censorship.

“The Magna Carta for PWDs is not a censorship law; if it were, the Supreme Court would immediatel­y strike it down as unconstitu­tional. What the Magna Carta seeks to prevent is ridicule and vili

“The Magna Carta does not seek to censor the use of the word ‘mongoloid,’ ‘autistic’ or similar words in any public speech. That would be unconstitu­tional censorship,” she added.

Santiago went on to describe the threats to sue her as blackmail, which she said is punishable under the law.

In the end, Santiago though did extend the olive branch to Pasia and other advocates of PWDs and vowed to never use the term “mongoloid” or any other

“However, as a parent myself, I understand that what obviously motivates you and my other critics is parental love and concern. This being so, I extend the hand of friendship. Out of goodwill, I will impose self-censorship, by avoiding in future any word that refers to a person with disability,” she said.

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