Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo has apologized for posing for a photo together with her fellow Liberal Party (LP) members at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Germany, saying there was no excuse for such offense.
“They [people who criticized us for posing for a photo]have a point, that’s why I have to apologize for offending the sensibilities of others. There was no excuse,” Robredo said in a chance interview during the Asian Forum on Enterprise for Society where she served as keynote speaker.
The Holocaust, carried out by then Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler and his forces, subjected Jews to slave labor and mass murder, including sending them to gas chambers just because Hitler found their race “undesirable.”
The Holocaust killed six million Jews across Europe from 1941 to 1945.
“While there was no malice in it, I take full responsibility. That’s why I would like to apologize,” Robredo, who also serves as LP chairman, said.
The photo that stirred controversy was taken last week when the Vice President and some members of the LP joined a study tour at the invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF)-Philippines where they engaged in discussions on various aspects of governance, aimed at finding solutions to poverty elimination and social justice.
It made rounds in the Internet after LP lawmaker Teddy Baguilat posted the photo on his Twitter account.
Baguilat quickly took down the photo but not before the public already saved copies of it.
Aside from Baguilat, others in the photo were Representatives Romero Quimbo of Marikina City, Jorge Banal of Quezon City, Arlene Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and former Budget chief Florencio Abad, among others.
Baguilat earlier apologized for the photo and said LP members will never disrespect victims of the genocide committed by the Nazis against the Jews.
“We, as human rights advocates, fully understand the plight experienced by the Jews under the Nazis and we would be the last to disrespect their memory, in the same way that we condemn injustice anywhere in the world, including our own country. I apologize for this lapse,” he said in a statement.
The LP members’ photo op, however, was not the first time that Philippine government officials displayed lack of sensibility on the plight of the Holocaust victims.
In October 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte had to apologize for likening the drug war killings to the massacre of the Jews during the Holocaust.