LP may let go of Tolentino
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino’s dream of becoming a senator may be over.
According to a senior member of the Liberal Party (LP), ranking officials of the ruling party were “seriously considering” dropping Tolentino from the LP senatorial slate amid public protests against the bawdy performance of the sexy dance group Playgirls that he allegedly sponsored during a party event in Laguna province on Thursday.
The show, allegedly Tolentino’s “birthday gift” to Laguna Rep. Benjie Agarao, backfired, with many members of the public denouncing it as insulting to women and demanding an apology from President Aquino, the LP’s titular head.
The show was held at Agarao’s home in Santa Cruz town during which former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the LP presidential candidate in next year’s elections, swore in new members of the party.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the MMDA chair’s explanation and actions pertaining to the incident did not satisfy a number of LP members and senior officials.
“We’re not trying to do damage control. We’re just doing what we have to do consistent with our party principles and policies,” the source told the Inquirer.
He must go
The source added that the LP would have to “let go” of Tolentino to show its sincerity in upholding its principles, specifically regarding gender sensitivity and respect for women.
Asked if the LP was also considering Tolentino’s unremarkable showing in recent senatorial polls, the source said: “No. What’s more important to us is the candidate’s integrity and commitment to daang matuwid.”
Daang matuwid is the code word for the Aquino administration’s reform program.
The source said Tolentino’s fate would have to be decided by the LP’s national executive council.
“But technically speaking, Tolentino is not yet an LP member, although he is set to join the party in time for the filing of (certificates) of candidacy,” the source said.
Tolentino has denied sponsoring the Playgirls show, saying the emcee at the event may have been misinformed.
He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Reporters who sought to speak to him at his MMDA office were told by his staff that he was not there.
“We have not been told where he is,” a staff member said.
But Ruth Cabal, a consultant to Tolentino, said the MMDA chief was attending a “series of meetings.”
The Inquirer’s calls to Tolentino went unanswered.
During its national convention on Wednesday, the LP authorized Roxas to choose his running mate and name eight candidates to complete the party’s senatorial slate.
At the same event, the LP endorsed the run for reelection of Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Ralph Recto and Teofisto
The party also approved the senatorial bid of resigned Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan. With a report from Kristine Felisse Mangunay