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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Filipino fury at Housewives joke
Teri Hatcher
Teri Hatcher's character made the comment in the series opener
US network ABC has apologised for a scene in the new series of Desperate Housewives which pokes fun at medical education in the Philippines.

In Sunday's US episode, Susan, played by Teri Hatcher, went for a check-up and was shocked when the doctor said she may be going through menopause.

She asked to see his diplomas, "just to make sure they aren't from some school in the Philippines".

The apology came after the country's health minister said he would complain.

Nearly 53,000 names have been attached to an online petition calling for an apology.

"A statement that devalues Filipinos in healthcare is extremely unfounded, considering the overwhelming presence of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the medical field," the petition read.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he would write to the producers, noting the country's "vehement protest".

'Sensitive and respectful'

Senior cabinet member Eduardo Ermita told reporters an apology would be sought "on behalf of our Filipino professionals".

ABC said it was considering editing the episode to remove the joke.

"The producers of Desperate Housewives and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offence caused by the brief reference in the season premiere," the broadcaster said in a statement.

"There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines.

"As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programmes."

The online petition was started by Kevin Nadal, 29, a Filipino-American college lecturer who lives in New York.

He said ABC should consider offering scholarships or donations to community groups to make amends.

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