Senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino has blamed “societal hypocrisy” for the public’s tendency to criticize a person for inviting sexy dancers into a birthday party and yet largely support Madonna’s concert.

“In terms of societal hypocrisy and how you view things, you penalize a guy for something he’s already apologized [for], and yet you patronize all of these things in shows, noontime shows, and then you have a fully-booked Madonna show forthcoming. So okay lang 'yun [but it’s okay], blame it on societal hypocrisy, blame it on existing paradigms which sometimes we accept, sometimes we don’t,” he said Wednesday on ANC's Headstart.

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The former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair was criticized by the public after having been named responsible for supposedly inviting an all-female sexy dance group, Playgirls, to Laguna 4th District Representative Benjamin Agarao's birthday party, held after a Liberal Party's (LP) oath-taking ceremony.

The Playgirls' racy performance, which was recorded and posted on social media, also drew complaints from various groups, including women's group Gabriela.

Days after the controversy broke out, Tolentino asked LP to drop him from the party's senatorial line-up.

Tolentino said the incident was just a phase of his life and it has since strengthened his character.

He also asked the public to move on from the controversy and instead focus on his performance as a government official.

“It has nothing to do with your performance as a government official, it has nothing to do with your character, I think it even strengthen my character, my resolve to ask forgiveness, maging mapagpakumbabang loob [to become humble], I think it is one phase in your life what when you admit and ask forgiveness, let’s move on,” he said.

He also claimed that he has no pending case before the Sandiganbayan following the issue.

The senate hopeful, who is also a former mayor of Tagaytay City, does not think the controversy harmed his image, claiming the legacy of Tagaytay's "City of Character" program he implemented lives on.

“You still have the ‘City of Character’ program in Tagaytay which I implemented since 1998, advocating values every month, replicated in other parts of the country,” he said.