Sen. Cynthia Villar trended yesterday because of a viral video that had netizens dubbing her the new local variation of a Karen. Villar was allegedly caught on video verbally attacking a group of security personnel who denied her orders of removing metal barricades blocking a road. Clips from the six-minute video had netizens accusing Villar of being an “elitist and homophobic land grabber.” And those are not pretty words to describe a public official.
In case you forgot, Karen is a pejorative slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, often racist middle-aged woman who uses her white privilege to make demands. So was Villar discriminatorily using her privilege to get her way? Let’s unpack it.
What’s her issue?
But first, context. The exact location of the incident has yet to be confirmed by an official source—with no statement from Villar’s office or the camp of the security personnel published as of writing. While several news outlets reported that it took place near the Zapote River Drive, a number of Las Piñero netizens also claimed that it happened at BF Resort Village (BFRV).
One publication reports that Villar, a BFRV homeowner herself, was demanding access to an open lot in the subdivision supposedly converted as parking space but restricted with metal barricades.
A number of netizens also speculated that Villar was demanding the right of way. In previous years, she’s had legal rows with the BF Resort Village Homeowners Association, Inc. (BFRVHAI) over her family building an access road and bridge that connects the subdivision to the Villars’ farm in Bacoor, Cavite. The two camps also fought over opening several BFRV streets to the public as part of the Las Pinas Friendship Route. The Villar clan, which includes former DPWH Sec. Mark Villar and Las Piñas district Rep. Camille Villar, have been expanding road projects and businesses in the area for years.
Right or wrong, it’s no excuse for a senator to allegedly grab at security personnel while berating them with foul language in public. It’s not just shameful, it’s unacceptable. She should treat her constituents with respect.
An “elitist land grabber”
In the video, Villar was allegedly heard saying, “Ako nagtanggal ng lahat ng squatter dito. Hindi ko nga ito napakinabangan eh. Ngayon eh, ikaw na ngayon ang masusunod?”
Villar is far from the first public official to seemingly show disdain for informal settlers even though they’re mandated to serve impoverished communities. Displacing families (along with her family’s history of agricultural land use conversion) isn’t a flex. What seems to be entitlement to make money off what is assumed to be public land makes it sound worse.
“Hindi ko sinasaktan ang guard niyo. Bakit, kaya ko bang saktan ’yan? Ano ‘yan, bakla? Kaya kong saktan?” was also heard from Villar’s alleged tirade. It was a response to a man, purportedly the boss of the security personnel, begging Villar not to hurt the guards.
Netizens speculated on what the senator meant by this. Some interpreted it an “admission” to the capability of hurting gay people.
To this, Bahaghari chairperson Reyna Valmores said, “Hindi porke’t bakla ang isang tao ay may karapatan kang saktan siya, Senator Villar. At lalong walang karapatan ang sinuman maging matapobre dahil lang yumaman siya kaka-agaw ng lupa.”
"HINDI PORKE'T BAKLA ANG ISANG TAO AY MAY KARAPATAN KANG SAKTAN SIYA"
Bahaghari blasts Senator @Cynthia_Villar's homophobic, elitist tirade against security worker in Las Piñas.
"At lalong walang karapatan ang sinuman maging matapobre dahil lang yumaman siya kaka-agaw ng lupa". pic.twitter.com/dQBS4fBBPL
— Bahaghari (@Bahaghari_PH) April 19, 2023
Whether or not this was Villar’s intention, it does seem that her use of the word bakla in that context is derogatory. In the past, Villar was slammed for her stance on “gender-sensitive” restrooms, which was that the LGBTQIA+ should just use restrooms for persons with disabilities while waiting for separate restrooms for them to be built.
Others, who didn’t seem to find as much fault in the tirade, interpreted it as a Villar highlighting the physical difference between her and the security guards. Even going as far as to call the guards, “OA” or “paawa.”
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of P3PWD party-list tweeted, “Ang OA ng secu guard ha. ‘Huwag niyo kaming saktan.’ Paano nga naman sila masaktan ni Sen. Cynthia V, ang liit nya, ang lalaki ng mga secu? I didn’t see her beating them up in that video.”
Ang OA ng secu guard ha. " huwag nyo kaming saktan," Paano nga naman sila masaktan ni Sen Cynthia V, ang liit nya, ang lalaki ng mga secu? I didn't see her beating them up in that video.
— Rowena Guanzon (@rowena_guanzon) April 20, 2023
But we should remind ourselves that being physically smaller doesn’t stop anyone, especially those in positions of power, from abusing their authority. What did you think about the video?
Photo from Cynthia Villar’s Facebook
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