Vice Ganda, Philippines most popular comedian, draws anger over gang-rape joke

Excerpts of a Vice Ganda show for ABS-CBN TV, where he made fun of a newscaster Jessica Soho from the rival GMA network, reached YouTube.

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MANILA // The Philippines' most popular comedian has drawn anger instead of laughs by joking about rape.

Vice Ganda was speaking to a packed arena audience when he made fun of a leading newscaster from a rival TV network by alluding to her weight and being gang-raped. ABS-CBN TV, where he works, did not air the remarks, but excerpts of the show reached YouTube.

Mr Ganda has apologised to Jessica Soho, the vice president for news programmes of GMA Network. Ms Soho said she hopes his apology was sincere.

"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," she said in a statement.

ABS-CBN did not comment.

The government's policy-making body on women and gender equality today called on public figures not to glorify rape. The Philippine Commission on Women asked workers in entertainment and media to censor themselves when talking about abuse.

It called Mr Ganda's talk "tasteless and revolting."

"Rape jokes hurt women who are suffering or may have suffered from the trauma of rape. It is not a laughing matter," it said. According to the National Statistics Office, nearly one out of 10 women aged 15-49 has experienced sexual violence.

Mr Ganda, whose real name is Jose Marie Viceral has several TV shows and has appeared in several movies, including two top grossing movies where he played lead roles.