MANILA, Philippines – The girlfriend of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III expressed her support to a doctors group’s no-smoking policy for its members.
Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad endorsed the Philippine Medical Association’s (PMA) various projects, including its new smoking ban policy, during the group’s Broadway-style fundraiser concert at the AFP Theater in Quezon City.
Soledad, who graced the event as a special guest, said she is ready to help PMA in promoting its advocacies.
Dr. Mike Aragon, head of PMA’s media affairs, thanked the councilor for her support.
“The Philippine Medical Association would like to thank Councilor Shalani Soledad for her support to the PMA 53rd Medicine Week Celebration activities and advocacies like the Millennium Development Goals on child and maternal health, infectious diseases, and our anti-tobacco fun run,” Aragon said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
The “PMA does Broadway” show was held to raise funds for the group’s indigency center for the underprivileged.
Soledad’s endorsement came as a surprise to many since the President’s smoking habit has been a subject of public scrutiny.
A tobacco control group has challenged the President to kick his nicotine habit and be a poster boy for the government's anti-smoking campaign.
It has been rumored that Soledad and the President have called it quits already, but the couple remained tight-lipped.
During his state visit to the United States, the President declined to answer a question about his plan to settle down, while Soledad evaded questions about Aquino during the PMA event.
Soledad has also repeatedly asked the press not to inquire about the status of their relationship.
According to Soledad’s uncle, Ramon Soledad, the couple reportedly agreed never to discuss their romance in public.
Soledad’s camp also declined to confirm reports that the 2 saw each other Tuesday night although it shot down the break-up rumors. Her camp said they are still very much together.
The PMA also maintained that Soledad’s endorsement has nothing to do with Aquino’s smoking habit.
Through Soledad’s help, the PMA said it will strengthen and broaden its policy to ban doctors from smoking.
The group also called on the President to raise sin taxes to discourage smoking among Filipinos.
Soledad learned about the PMA during election campaign. The group supported Aquino’s bid in May 10 presidential polls.
Meanwhile, the public will see more of Soledad on television as the former TV news reporter will reportedly host 2 public affairs programs. -Report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News