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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Germany Declares Robredo, LP Members Persona Non Grata for Disrespectful Photo at Holocaust Memorial

The German government has declared Vice President Leni Robredo as persona non grata, along with some members of the Liberal Party (LP) who joined the group photo on top of the Holocaust Memorial, a memorial in Berlin dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, a mass genocide during World War II that killed around 6 million Jews.

Included in the Holocaust Memorial group photo are VP Robredo along LP President, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, QC Representatives Bolet Banal and Kit Belmonte, former Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, and three other LP members.

The original source of the controversial photo is not known, as well as the identity of the person who took the photo. The date when the photo was taken is also unknown, but it could be that it was taken just early this month since VP Robredo had an official trip in Europe including London and Berlin, hosted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF).

Also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Holocaust Memorial is a 4.7-acre site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs, and was opened to the public in May 2005. The monument is often used a recreational space, and people can take photos while visiting the area. However, playing on top of the pillars, laughing around, and smiling on selfies or group photos are considered as very disrespectful acts.

In January 2017, Jewish artist Shahak Shapira created a project called Yolocaust to shame the disrespected acts of people visiting Holocaust Memorial. In his blog, Shapira gathered photos from social media showing disrespectful acts Holocaust Memorial, and photoshopped them into actual historical photos from Nazi extermination camps.

Meanwhile, the German Embassy in the Philippines released a statement on Sunday, April 15, condemning VP Robredo, Sen. Pangilinan and the LP members included in the group photo at the Holocaust Memorial. “It is unfortunate that the Filipino politicians in the photo at Holocaust Memorial have shown no respect to the history of Germany.” It said.

“With the strong call from our disappointed citizens, our government has decided to declare them as persona non grata. Therefore, these individuals are not anymore allowed to visit our country at any given time.” The German Embassy added, without mentioning any names. As of posting, VP Robredo, Sen. Pangilinan and LP have not yet commented on this issue.

Contributed by Renato Pasayao

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