|Vivienne Tan, 40, is running for Quezon City 1st District representative this year.
Heiress-model faces disqualification in 2010 polls
MANILA, Philippines - The daughter of the country's richest tobacco magnate, Vivienne Khao Tan, may be disqualified from running for Congress if cases filed by her opponent are approved.
Quezon City 1st District Rep. Vincent "Bingbong" Crisologo filed separate petitions to disqualify Tan before the Comelec and the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) on grounds that she has not satisfied election requirements.
Tan is the daughter of Philippine Airlines chairman and Asia Brewery owner Lucio Tan.
Crisologo claims Tan, who is running against him in the May 10 polls, was not a Filipino citizen when she registered to vote.
He added that she has not reached the required minimum residency to run for representative of the district.
The Quezon City MTC recently ruled in Crisologo's favor in a 7-page decision promulgated last week.
MTC Judge Augustus Diaz ruled that Tan was an American citizen at the time she registered to vote on October 26, 2009 which means she was not a qualified voter when she filed her certificate of candidacy.
Diaz also ordered that Tan's name be stricken from the official voters' list.
"She was lying under oath and is liable for perjury. She did not have residency because she only acquired Filipino citizenship on November 30, 2009--barely 5 months from election. She may have been a resident at the time, but she was a resident alien," Crisologo told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.
"If she's no longer on the voter's list, then that will boost our second petition for her disqualification as a candidate pending at the Comelec," he added.
Tan's camp, however, claims Crisologo's moves to disqualify her constitute "political attacks."
"We are saying that his acts constitute the act of a person who is afraid of a fair fight. He's playing dirty," said Tan's campaign manager, Susan Tagle, in a phone interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
Tagle explained that Tan had dual citizenship (American and Filipino) before she renounced her American citizenship by taking an Oath of Allegiance in 2009. She argued that Tan never "lost" her Filipino citizenship.
She said Tan has been living at her father's home in Quezon City "all her life" and has satisfied the minimum required residency of not less than 1 year prior to the elections.
Friendly with judges
|Quezon City 1st District Rep. Vincent "Bingbong" Crisologo, 62, is seeking re-election this year.
Tagle claims Judge Diaz's ruling was influenced by his friendship with Crisologo, a statement that the congressman denied.
Crisologo told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that all Quezon City judges are his friends because he has often seen them at social functions. "But that does not mean it will affect their decisions," he said.
Judge Diaz reportedly asked to be inhibited from the case on account that Crisologo is his friend, but Tan's camp chose to trust that Diaz would "rule as per the law."
Tan questioned Diaz's ruling later on, saying she was delisted on "a mere technicality and a baseless interpretation of the law." She said Diaz went "grossly beyond the law."
Tagle said they are preparing to file an appeal before the court by Friday this week.
Tagle said they expect Crisologo to discredit his opponents in the race, including QC Councilor Elizabeth Belarmente.
"We expect Rep. Crisologo to use all other means to get [Tan] out of the race and if he doesn't do so, whatever other forms of harrassment and violence may occur," she said.
In 2004, Crisologo had also moved to disqualify one of his opponents, administration bet Bernadette Romulo Puyat, whom he claimed was not from the district. Puyat was allowed to run but lost to Crisologo by 643 votes.
Afraid of losing?
The heiress's camp insists Crisologo wants to disqualify Tan because he is afraid of losing to a neophyte.
The congressman vehemently denied this.
"I am not afraid of her. As a legislator, I just can't let falsity pass away. You cannot do something illegal. I will not allow anyone to subvert the law. How can I be afraid of her when nobody knows her in our district?" he told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
Crisologo, who said he is a good friend of Lucio Tan, questioned Tan's motives for joining the elections.
"She just came out of nowhere. I don't know what made her run. But I heard she is being supported by leftists (Sanlakas)," he said.
"But why in my district? Her father has a factory in Marikina, and there's a vacant congressional seat there. She should have run there," he added.
Tagle explained that politics was the next logical step for Tan.
- Rep. Bingbong Crisologo is questioning Vivienne Tan's citizenship and residency. He believes she should be disqualified.
- Tan's camp says Crisologo's disqualification cases constitute political harrassment.
- Tan wants to run this 2010 to "help the public sector." Crisologo says she can serve the public without running.
- Crisologo has been in politics for many years, while Tan is considered a neophyte.
"She feels that as an educator, someone who has already done her share in the private sector, she felt that it was time for her to help the public sector," she said.
Model and fashion icon Vivienne Tan earned degrees in Math and Computer Science from the University of San Francisco.
She also has a postgraduate degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
Tan co-founded the Entrepreneurs School of Asia, which pioneered an entrepreneurship degree program. She is also a founding trustee of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship.
Crisologo, meanwhile, was councilor of Quezon City for 6 years prior to becoming Congressman.
He is a relative of Presidential Security Adviser Luis "Chavit" Singson. Crisologo was one of those who signed House Resolution 1109 calling for a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.
Tan is running is an independent candidate, while Crisologo is under the Nacionalista Party. Report by Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak. Photo courtesy of Vivienne Tan's staff.