FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) - December 4, 2018 - 12:00am

When five Miss Earth contestants complained about being sexually harassed by a “sponsor,” that brought embarrassment not only to the organizers of this pageant. It brought embarrassment to the whole country.

Women who come forward to claim they were subjected to harassment or assault of a sexual nature do so despite awareness the justice system does not work in their favor. They almost always speak the truth. A study in the UK shows only about four percent of reports filed about violence against women were suspected to be falls. The percentage of doubtful claims drops even lower in other European countries and in the US.

We will try to live down this embarrassing episode, of course. But that will not be easy if the organizer of the pageant, Carousel Productions, does not do enough to seek reparation for the victims and penalize the culprit.

All Carousel Productions did during the contest was to assure the complaining contestants that the man accused of unwanted acts would be banned from succeeding pageant events. He continued to be present throughout.

We now know more about the “sponsor” some contestants complained about. His name is Amado S. Cruz. He is president of two companies, Offshore Construction and Development Corp. (OCDC) and New Qualitrans Inc. Neither have been models of good business behavior.

OCDC is the firm involved in what has been deemed an anomalous deal with the Intramuros Administration (IA). The Sandiganbayan, earlier this year, found the IA administrator during this time, Dominador Ferrer Jr., guilty of graft. Among the pieces of evidence presented in this case are letters sent to Cruz.

In October 2017, the LTFRB board considered issuing a preventive suspension order against all units of New Qualitrans after a passenger complained of being sexually molested by one of the company’s drivers and even forcibly brought to a motel. When the police investigated the company, they found that a number of documents for Qualitrans taxi units were falsified.

Those who know Amado S. Cruz and his predilections tend to believe the accusations made by several Miss Earth contestants. They say that inviting Cruz to be a sponsor and freely mingle with the contestants has to be a lapse in judgment on the part of Carousel Productions, a company supposedly owned by an official of our stock exchange. That was like inviting Dracula to the inauguration of a blood bank.

Many want Carousel Productions to do more about this case than it seems it is prepared to do. This is not just an embarrassing episode for the whole country. It also puts the future of the Miss Earth contest in jeopardy.

After this scandal, who would send contestants to Manila for future contests knowing the pageant organizers cannot ensure their safety and wellbeing?


I join fellow alumni Nancy Binay and Kiko Pangilinan in calling for the resignation of UP Regent Frederick “Spocky” Farolan.

Farolan, on social media, put out what clearly was a threat of harm against players of the Ateneo men’s basketball team. The UP and Ateneo teams are set to play tomorrow for the second, and hopefully not the last, game of the UAAP championship series.

Farolan deleted his message after the uproar. But he has not been repentant.

This is not the first time this particular regent drew controversy. When applicants complained about the delay in the release of the last UPCAT results, Farolan issued a rude putdown in his social media account.

This is not how UP regents should behave. They are expected to embody the State University’s best values.

Sports is sports. We might sometimes complain about the quality of officiating. But we know how to win and how to lose with honor.

True the UP alumni are a bit more enthusiastic about this championship series. This is after all the first time in 32 years our men’s basketball team is in the finals, fighting to get there in a most arduous way. But we are not about to threaten our rivals with harm to gain unfair advantage.

My sons tell me the students are grumbling about the alumni who gobbled up the lower box seats. They had to camp out to get general admissions tickets. We used our reliable connections to get ours. I got mine through former UP coach Rey Madrid.

They say the alumni are simply too old to cheer as loudly as we must. They say we did not know the cheering routines and generally ignored the prompting of the drummers. They want an energetic gallery to play the sixth man against our talented rivals.

I plead guilty to all of that. I had to fight Saturday’s traffic jams to get to the MOA Arena from Quezon City. By the time I got to my seat at the lower gallery, I wanted to take a nap.

But, for better or for worse, the alumni will again be there tomorrow. We will squeeze every valuable contact we have to acquire tickets. We will pay scalpers through our noses if need be.

We will be there. We will take our naps in the morning to be as energetic as we could be. Forgive the old fogeys. We just want to wear the school colors with pride once more. Bear with us.

We will also be there to show the world we can lose with honor to a superior adversary. We have done that over and over again for so many years. That rude regent does not represent us.

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