Philippines protests Baldwin's mail-order bride joke

MANILA Wed May 20, 2009 2:52pm BST

Actor Alec Baldwin of the film ''LymeLife'' poses during the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival September 8, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Actor Alec Baldwin of the film ''LymeLife'' poses during the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival September 8, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines has strongly protested a joke made by actor Alec Baldwin about getting a Filipina mail-order bride, describing it as "insensitive," Manila's foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The Philippines said the labelling of women married to U.S. nationals as mail-order brides "is offensive and prejudiced," Cecilia Rebong, Manila's consul-general in New York, said in a letter sent to the actor on Tuesday.

Rebong said the Philippines is one of the leading countries in the world in eliminating the trafficking of women and children and that Baldwin's statement in a television interview gave the impression that Filipino women could still be categorized as commodities for sale.

"Being an actor and a comedian, it is understandable that you may not be aware of these matters," Rebond said in her letter to Baldwin.

"However, as a public figure, it is incumbent upon you to be sensitive to discriminatory statements, especially in a multicultural society as colourful, rich and diverse as that of the United States."

Women's group in the Philippines were also outraged after Baldwin's interview on the "The Late Show with David Letterman" last week was posted on the video sharing site YouTube.

Women lawmakers at the two-chamber Congress also protested against Baldwin's statements and demanded a public apology from the actor.

"Let us make it clear to the world, Filipino women are not for sale," Senator Loren Legarda said in a statement. "Not even for sale to Hollywood actors."

(Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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