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Vice Ganda apologizes to Jessica Soho over rape joke


(Updated 4:20 pm) Comedian Vice Ganda made a public apology Wednesday to GMA News anchor Jessica Soho for making fun of the popular news personality, which included a "gang rape" joke that has been widely criticized on social media.

"Humihingi po ako ng kapatawaran sa inyo," Vice Ganda said in a live telecast on ABS-CBN's noontime program 'Showtime."

In his concert last May 17, Vice Ganda joked that if Soho were a bold star in a movie, the scene would have to involve a "gang rape."

In a statement sent to GMA News Online on Tuesday, Soho said: "Rape is not a joke and should never be material for a comedy concert."

Vice Ganda said he phoned Soho early Wednesday to make a personal apology, but he quoted the broadcast journalist as saying that she was not ready to talk to him.

The comedian said he was compelled to make the public apology as he was unable to convey his remorse personally to Soho.

"Opo, iyon po ay isang biro na maaaring sa inyo ay hindi magandang biro at kung hindi po magandang biro 'yon at nasaktan ko po kayo talaga, humihingi po ako ng paumanhin, patawad po," Vice Ganda said.

"At pinapangako ko po sa inyo na hindi na kayo magiging kasama kailanman sa anumang tema ng pagtatanghal ko," he vowed.

The comedian is known for crass and gallows humor in his shows. Aside from Soho, he poked fun at ABS-CBN news personalities and other celebrities during his May 17 concert.

'A cruel joke'

A video of the segment that showed Vice Ganda making the gang rape joke has drawn condemnation from human rights groups after it was circulated on social media sites this week.

Gabriela party-list representative Luz Ilagan said on Twitter, "Joke is made in bad taste. Rape is one of the worst (if not the worst) forms of violence vs women."

In her statement on Tuesday, Soho also said: "I thank all those who shared my hurt and expressed their support, but this should not be about me but about rape victims who suffer tremendously from this terrible crime. The horrors they go through are unspeakable and should never be taken lightly, especially by way of a cruel joke."

In response, Vice Ganda said he did not mean to insult rape victims, and apologized to those who took offense with the gang rape joke.

"Wala po akong intensyong masama na pagtawanan ang mga rape victim. Alam ko po seryoso ang isyu tungkol sa rape, kaya hindi ko po ginawang seryoso na pagtawanan ang rape victims," he said.

"Gayunpaman, kung meron pong nasaktan, humihingi po ako ng paumanhin. At sa lahat po ng nakisali sa maliit na isyung ito, na pinalaki at nagmukhang national issue na nagsimula sa isang simpleng biro, kung hindi niyo po nagugustuhan ang pagpapatawa ko, paumanhin po sa inyo," Vice Ganda added.

Soho's reply

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Soho acknowledged the apology from Vice Ganda and said: "I sincerely hope and pray that this was done with the purest intentions and determination to put this issue behind us."

Soho, who anchors the evening news program "State of the Nation" on GMA News TV, also clarified that the comedian's call "came without warning as his number was not programmed in my phone directory. I told him I wasn't feeling well and I wasn't sure I was ready to talk to him. But I clearly remember thanking him for his call."

She added: "As I've said, this is not about me, but about the issue of rape not being an appropriate subject matter for comedy. Rape transcends age, economic class, gender -- and even one's weight."

Soho is the Vice President for News Programs of GMA Network, where she also hosts its top-rated program "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho."

She studied at the University of the Philippines and has won numerous accolades, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, and has been repeatedly named as the most trusted news personality in the country. — With a report from Mac Macapandeg/LBG/YA, GMA News
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