MANILA, Philippines – DUMPER-PTDA Party-list Representative Claudine Diana Bautista on Thursday finally responded to criticisms over her wedding at a luxurious Balesin resort last week.
In a statement, Bautista said she acknowledges “all of the sentiments asserted by everyone.”
She said her posh wedding, which was supposed to be a “private and personal milestone,” had been planned for a long time with her husband, businessman Jose French “Tracker” Lim.
“My husband has been planning this special day with me for years even before the pandemic, and it pains us to see how things after our wedding turned out,” she said.
“This was supposed to be the culminating event of a decades-long love story,” she added.
She described Lim as “kind and loving person” who only wanted “to give me the wedding of my dreams.”
“We both found many of the comments heartbreaking. This celebration of our love was a product of my husband’s hard work,” she said.
“I hear you, and I have internalized all of the grievances that were brought up in light of what was supposed to be a private and personal milestone,” she added. “Although given the situation, I would also like to express my sadness over how my wedding day, something that I have separated from my work as a public official, has been made into a political spectacle.”
Bautista, who represents public utility vehicle drivers in Congress, said she has dedicated most of her life to public service but was hoping to have a wedding experience in private with her husband “the same way that most people who marry the love of their lives do.”
The solon, who is the daughter of Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, drew a hailstorm of criticisms after renowned Filipino couturier Michael Cinco posted about her wedding on social media.
“We had no intention of making our wedding a public affair, so we kept it as intimate as possible. However, access was unintentionally given through the post of my wedding gown designer, Michael Cinco and he mistakenly posted about the private event,” she said.
“He has since, also apologized for bringing unwanted attention to an event that was supposed to be separate from my life as a public servant,” she added.
Critics were questioning the timing and the cost of Bautista’s “lavish” wedding when the country is still battling the pandemic that has displaced many workers and public utility drivers.
Some even accused her of spending the people’s money, supposed to be allocated for her constituents, on her wedding.
“Working for a public office, I have always valued the integrity of my work,” she said.
She also refuted allegations that she had ignored the plight of public transport drivers who are facing hardships amid the pandemic.
“I assure everyone that we have never taken our eyes off of these concerns,” she said.
“People have been questioning my public service record when in reality, during the pandemic, we were able to help vaccinate 18,000 PUV drivers,” she added.
Bautista also stressed that they have provided assistance through DSWD, DOH, and DOLE-TUPAD, and advocated for the immediate release of financial assistance for PUV drivers by filing a House Resolution and worked to ensure that the deadline for consolidation of PUVs is extended.
“To address the effects of the pandemic, in my personal capacity, I also made sure that more than 1.1 million grocery packs, PPEs, free insurance policies, and relief assistance are distributed to affected PUV drivers and commuters. From my personal funds,” she said.
“I have donated P3 million to doctors and nurses to ensure that their tireless sacrifice is recognized,” she added.
Now that she has said her peace, Bautista said she now wants to move past the issue and focus on pressing matters – the pandemic and serving her constituents better.
“I will no longer indulge in the statements by people of influence against me as I will leave it up to my legal team to address this,” she said.