Tolentino quits, tells LP to count him out

Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

‘Sorry for Playgirls dance show’   

MANILA, Philippines - Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino yesterday publicly apologized for the sexy performance of the all-female dance group Playgirls during a Liberal Party event in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on Sept. 30.

He also tendered his resignation as MMDA chief and asked the Liberal Party (LP) leadership to strike his name off the list of potential senatorial candidates that it will be fielding for the May 2016 elections.

“I am asking for understanding and I apologize to the women’s groups hurt because of the incident in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. It was my mistake and I acknowledge that I failed to stop the performance (even when) I was the highest ranking government officer there,” he said in Filipino during the MMDA launching of three Pasig River ferries at the Guadalupe station in Makati City.

But President Aquino defended him, saying “Francis is a firm advocate of daang matuwid (straight path). He knows that, at present, those who oppose meaningful reform will want to exploit the incident to remove him from its senatorial slate. I believe that Chairman Tolentino is doing his part to ensure that public debate truly focuses on the continuation of daang matuwid and the undeniable benefits it has brought to our bosses.”

Without directly saying that he is striking Tolentino off the LP Senate slate, Aquino said he hopes Tolentino will take the opportunity “to further reflect on how he can better effect positive change in the future.”

LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas said Tolentino’s latest action shows that the latter is a believer of the straight path.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the act should put a closure to the issue. He earlier clarified that Tolentino is not an LP member.

Aquino recalled that his mother – former President Cory Aquino – appointed Tolentino as officer-in-charge of Tagaytay City in 1986.

“In all his years of public service, he demonstrated the dedication and dynamic leadership of a public servant committed to the common good. It is this same commitment that encouraged him to set his sights towards serving our people in a higher capacity,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also appealed to the public not to make the Sta. Cruz incident a defining moment for Tolentino.

“What happened in Laguna does not define Chairman Tolentino and it should not define what he has done for us as chairman of the MMDA,” he told Palace reporters in a briefing.

Lacierda credited the beleaguered MMDA chief for the flood-control projects in Metro Manila.

The Playgirls performed after the oath taking of new LP members in Laguna. The event’s emcee announced that the sexy group’s performance was a gift of Tolentino to Agarao, which the MMDA chairman later denied.

“Again…I was not able to control, I was not able to stop the incident, which to my and other’s belief, is also being done daily and shown to millions of TV viewers,” Tolentino claimed.

Aside from apologizing, Tolentino also asked the ruling LP to remove his name from the party’s list of possible senatorial bets in 2016. He publicly announced his bid for the Senate during a gathering of Cavite officials in Manila last Sept. 29.

Gabriela party-list said the incident should forewarn politicians on the use of women in lewd and raunchy shows for entertainment during the election campaign.

“Those using guns, goons, gold and girls in their campaign clearly have no platform of government to deliver to their constituents and should be rejected,” Gabriela stressed.

Outgoing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and former LP senatorial bet Risa Hontiveros earlier said they would not be at ease if made to run alongside Tolentino.

Ruth Cabal, Tolentino’s media consultant, said the former MMDA chief would still pursue his Senate bid next year but refused to specify under which party. - With Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Marvin Sy












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