After several women’s rights groups cried foul over the portrayal of a woman on a leash being led by Coco Martin onstage in the recent Bench “The Naked Truth” fashion show, the actor was immediately attacked on social media for having agreed to be part of a degrading act. Coco’s legal counsel Atty. Lorna Kapunan clarified that her client had no input on the creative part of the show (which had an international choreographer and several performers including the lady contortionist who joined Coco onstage) and as a contract endorser of the brand merely fulfilled his duties to participate in their fashion show.
Although Bench owner Ben Chan has since apologized to the actor for having his name dragged into the controversy, Coco decided to issue his official statement which he released via Atty. Kapunan during a press conference held on September 30 in Quezon City. The entire statement reads as follows:
“Mr. Coco Martin (“Mr.Martin”) was one of the models in The Naked Truth Fashion Show sponsored by Bench on September 20, 2013. The show was initially slated for September 19, 2014 but due to a storm, the event was re-scheduled the next day. During the segment entitled “The Animal Within Me,” Mr. Martin appeared on stage and walked with a woman on a leash. Bench clarified that the woman was actually a member of a Canadian Circus Troupe who played the role of a cat while Mr. Martin played the role of a Circus Master. This scene was found offensive, particularly to women.
Mr. Martin sincerely expresses his apology and requests the public for understanding. Mr. Martin equally feels bad about the incident and saddened at the thought that he unwittingly offended the public.
While offering no excuse and admits that a mistake has been made, Mr. Martin wants to set the record straight about the incident. Mr. Martin has an existing contract with Bench to model its apparels and this same contract obliges him to appear in fashion shows for Bench. Nevertheless, Mr. Martin, nor his manager or staff, was not involved in the conceptualization of the production of The Naked Truth now the segment entitled “The Animal Within Me.” He only appeared once for a rehearsal which was a day prior to the show and it was only then that the role, as a ring master, was given to him.
During the rehearsal most of the people on stage were foreigners and even the choreographer was a foreigner. Mr. Martin wanted to voice out his concern, particularly with the leash strapped on the neck of the lady model, but he failed to successfully communicate his thought because of the language barrier. Mr. Martin kept mum on his opinion on the matter because it was impressed upon him that the whole show was already finalized and he felt insignificant as to cause a scene and demand an overhaul of the entire segment.
Mr. Martin feels extremely sorry for what transpired and admitted that the incident taught him a major lesson to be more sensitive and mindful of the repercussions of his portrayals. Let it be clarified, however, that Mr. Martin did not have the slightest intention on his mind to insult women by this single unfortunate act. Mr. Martin has high regard for women just as he respects and loves his mother, his grandmother, and his three sisters.
Mr. Martin humbly asks for the public’s understanding and assures the public that he will no longer allow himself to be obliged to participate in a similar insensitive portrayal.”
During the press conference, Coco’s business manager Biboy Arboleda also informed the press that there will be succeeding press conferences to inform the public about what other steps they will make to help rectify the situation and protect Coco’s reputation and career.