October pest

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It’s the “ber” months so we can say it’s Bertiz’s month not only because of his name but also because of the partylist congressman’s headline grabbing acts lately. ACTS OFW partylist Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III’s 30 September “menstrual” mood swing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 suddenly pulled the plug on the Trillanes amnesty telenovela to become the flavor of the month of critics and bashers of no do-gooders in government.

Bertiz is crossing over to the next ber month of October with the controversy he had gotten himself into just starting to heat up and spawning more gaffe with adverse repercussions.

After his display of arrogance to an airport security screener last week earned the ire of netizens, he tried to defuse the bashing with an apology. Unfortunately, his sorry had sexist undertone by likening his rudeness to the screener to a woman having her monthly period.

The tactless remark backfired.

“He is perpetuating the harmful stereotype that a woman that is menstruating can be dismissed as unreasonable, moody, and over-emotional, and would react in a similar fashion as he would have,” lawyer Jacqueline de Guia, Commission on Human Rights spokesman, reacted in a tweet.

“Science has shown that this lie about women’s irrationality is just a fantasy made up by men like Bertiz to cover up that they cannot compete with most men and women,” the women’s rights group Every Woman said.

Even Bertiz’s colleague, Gabriela partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus, criticized him.

“The issue here is his arrogance. Women should not be stereotyped as arrogant and entitled during their menstrual period,” De Jesus said.

Those were just the initial reactions coming on the first day following the lawmaker’s misconduct at the airport. More headaches were coming Bertiz’s way to aptly make him the star or punching bag of this supposedly month of beer and beer-drinking, the October pest in other words. Like any other pest that had to be exterminated, there is now a public clamor for him to get out of Congress for other reasons.

On 1 October, airport authorities announced that they found Bertiz liable for violating security protocols after he also did not remove his shoes for inspection at the security checkpoint of NAIA Terminal 2 last 30 September.

Migrants group Migrante International, together with former OFW Shiela Mabunga and Emmanuel Villanueva, has also filed complaints against Bertiz before the House Committee on Ethics. They are seeking actions against Bertiz for abusing and not representing OFW.

Mabunga accused Bertiz of human trafficking after her employment papers with the recruitment agency of his wife, Keys Placement, was transferred to his own agency, Global Asia Alliance Consultants Inc. (GAACI), in 2013 when she arrived in Saudi Arabia to work. She also filed a case against GAACI with the POEA in 2015 for its failure to fulfill obligations to her after she was forced to return home.

Villanueva, an OFW from Hong Kong, wants Bertiz expelled from the House of Representatives because of their confrontation in Hong Kong in January 2017. Villanueva and other OFW were supposed to have a dialogue with Bertiz about the abolition of the overseas employment certificate but the legislator lectured on the need for the OEC and OFW ID. When he was asked to end his talk, he berated Villanueva and accused him of being undocumented.

“It was proven in his recent acts, behavior and our documentation of cases of his violation of OFWs’ rights that he is part of the system that abuses the migrants,” Migrante International spokesman Arman Hernando said Friday.

Migrante also accused Bertiz of being a “big-time recruiter” and not being a “legitimate representative of OFW.”

Bertiz has since retreated to a hospital, citing chest pains, and declined to issue statements on the allegations and ethics complaint. He may also be contemplating his next moves or carefully thinking what he will say next. But taking a low profile may not help Bertiz escape from his problems. Making the problem go away may take his resignation or expulsion from Congress as he is the problem.

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