‘Mon­goloid’ re­mark aimed at cor­rupt pols, says Miriam

The Philippine Star - - THE NATION - By MARVIN SY

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.