Today, Julia Barretto filed a cyber libel and violation of the Safe Spaces Act complaint against Jay Sonza, a former broadcaster and TV host for both ABS-CBN and GMA.
The complaint was over a Facebook post Sonza wrote last Monday, Sept. 21, alleging that the actress was pregnant. Sonza also alleged that the father was actor Gerald Anderson—in case you don’t remember, the two were linked together last year, creating a messy firestorm over social media. While the drama has mostly died down, it’s still a sore issue for the people involved.
Both Barretto and Anderson quickly debunked the rumor, with Anderson poking fun at it on Twitter and Barretto posting a photo of her bare abdomen with the caption “FAKE NEWS” on Sept. 22 on Instagram.
The day after Barretto posted the photo, Sonza recanted his post, deleting the original allegations and writing, “Pasensiya kung napaaga ang aking congratulations.”
Speaking to ABS-CBN reporter MJ Felipe, Barretto explained why she filed her complaint. “I am pursuing this case because the statements made by Mr. Sonza are untrue and irresponsible. The widespread reposting of the news based on his post caused distress to me and my family. I don’t want to take this matter lightly. Mr. Sonza, and all those who publish these reckless and baseless posts, must be held accountable for their actions so that they think twice before claiming things as fact.”
“Ang dami ko na kasing pinagdaaan, ang dami ko nang pinalampas lalo na sa social media, binastos na ang reputation ko, ang pangalan ko. You know, I think I just want to show people na hindi ko na pinapalampas ‘yung mga bagay na ganito,” she added.
This is not the first time Sonza’s been in the headlines over his Facebook posts: In 2019, he landed in hot water for both calling journalist and Rappler founder Maria Ressa “ubod ng pangit” and questioning Korina Sanchez’s pregnancy. In 2018, he also called Kris Aquino’s son “baklain.”
Here’s the thing: Even if it was true that Barretto was pregnant, Sonza had no right to disclose that information before she went public about it. It’s always the pregnant person’s prerogative to reveal their pregnancy, even as a public figure.
Pregnancy rumors are also inherently sexist. Jennifer Aniston herself spoke up about this in 2016 after tabloids ran wild with pregnancy rumors about her, penning an article that said, “The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”
She added, “This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status. The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.”
As much of a trash can fire this situation is, it’s great seeing more female celebrities fighting back. Just yesterday, Liza Soberano pressed charges against a netizen that made a rape joke about her. We hope this starts a wave of women, no longer being pressured to take these actions—rape jokes, malicious rumors and sexist microagressions—into stride, pushing back and demanding justice.