THE jet-setting Liberals drew flak this week after their group photo at Berlin’s Holocaust memorial made the rounds of social media, and rightly so.
The photo in question shows the all-smiling top leadership of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party, led by its titular head, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, sitting on the memorial’s concrete slabs.A
It wasn’t some group photo taken as an afterthought. There seemed to be careful subject positioning involved, to make sure the viewer zooms in on Robredo.
Robredo, right in focus and, therefore, the center of power, is surrounded by party heavyweights, such as Sen. Francis Pangilinan and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, as well as Representatives Romero Quimbo, Jose Christopher Belmonte and Kaka Bag-ao. The photographer, or whoever directed this “shoot,” made sure they also had prominent exposure.
The Liberals wore dark suits and some (including Robredo) wore sunglasses, as though inspired by Hollywood films “Men In Black” and “The Matrix.”
Sitting on the gray concrete slabs or “stelae” of the Holocaust memorial, or formally the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe,” was a bad enough display of lack of reverence to Germany’s eternal monument to the Jews massacred by the Nazis.
But the Liberals were clueless enough to have assumed there was nothing wrong with using the field of 2,711 stelae as a backdrop for their Berlin photoshoot. It’s something they wouldn’t have done at the Libingan ng mga Bayani or the Mauseleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion at the North Cemetery.
Worse, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., who was with the Robredo entourage, posted the photo on his Twitter account, to be seen by all and sundry.
After a deluge of criticism, Baguilat took the photo down, but not without some snark. “I hope this will make others express their outrage over the extrajudicial killings. The blood stains on the streets are their memorial,” he said, referring to the Duterte administration’s bloody drug war.
Robredo, to her credit, seemed sincere with her apology, no doubt stunned upon the belated realization of her group’s utter lack of respect and decorum before a memorial to one of the darkest periods of the 20th century.
“They (critics) have a point, that’s why I have to apologize for offending the sensibilities of others. There was no excuse,” Robredo told reporters on Tuesday.
The damage, of course, has been done, and photos, once uploaded to the internet, stay there forever, even if taken down by the owner.
The Liberals, who were guests in Germany last week, courtesy of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, have portrayed Filipinos and their leaders as giddy, clueless and insensitive tourists.
It should be no surprise to them that they have gone down several notches in the people’s estimation.
Robredo and her entourage – all educated, seasoned politicians and more importantly, adults – should have known better.