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Sotto on criticisms over 'na-ano' gaffe: Sorry you didn't get the joke

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday apologized for making a controversial remark about Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s status as a single mom, saying his critics apparently did not get the joke.

"Ang premise ko, sabi ko nga, in the street language, 'di ba? Yun ang biruan sa kalsada. That’s why kung minasama nila, I'm sorry, I apologize. They don’t understand the joke," Sotto said.

"It's a common expression as a joke but then again, I said, if they feel offended then I'm sorry, I’d like to apologize for that," he said.

Sotto drew flak on social media over his remarks to Taguiwalo, with Gabriela party-list demanding a public apology from him.

During her confirmation hearing, Taguiwalo was asked about her status as a single mom. The Cabinet official confirmed she is single and has two daughters.

Sotto then said: "In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag lang ay na-ano lang. Thank you, you have my 100 percent support, Madam Secretary."

Taguiwalo replied to Sotto, saying: "Senator Sotto, I teach women's studies in UP so we respect all kinds of families, and that include solo parents. Thank you."

In an interview with reporters, Sotto said Taguiwalo did not appear to have been offended by his joke.

He also said nominees can be asked about anything "under the sun" during their confirmation hearings.

"Although it was a joke and I do apologize if they are offended, in the CA, anything under the sun can can be asked about any nominee, just as a reminder," Sotto said.

"As I said, it was made as a joke. And everybody in the hall, almost everybody laughed," he noted.

Sotto said some of his critics are "perhaps overly sensitive."

"I will be the last person in this country to disrespect a woman because my mother was the founder of the women’s rights movement," Sotto said, adding that two of his daughters have the same situation as Taguiwalo.

"I have two daughters, who are separated, single, and have children; so I don’t think there should be any big fuss about it," he said. —KBK, GMA News