Tolentino on 'twerk' scandal: We have to move on

Dharel Placido and Kathlyn dela Cruz,

MANILA - Senatorial aspirant Francis Tolentino on Wednesday said it is already time to move on from the "Playgirls" controversy, adding that he still enjoys the support of President Benigno Aquino III.

“I think so. When I resigned, the president issued a statement expressing gratitude and full support,” said Tolentino, who is now running as an independent candidate.

Tolentino resigned from the MMDA and voluntarily removed himself from the Liberal Party senatorial slate amid public outrage over the controversial performance of all-female group “Playgirls” at an LP event in Laguna.

The former MMDA chief was heavily criticized for allegedly bringing the girls at a political event in Laguna. He denied hiring the girls as a birthday gift to an LP congressman, even as reports said he previously hired the group to perform at his brother’s campaign in 2013. He later apologized for failing to stop the girls’ performance, being the highest government official present in the event.

READ: MMDA chief apologizes, wants out of LP Senate slate

Tolentino told reporters he wants to move on from the incident, saying there are more important issues to discuss such as disaster preparedness and resiliency.

“Tapos na iyon. I already issued an apology. I even asked my name to be delisted from the LP senatorial slate. I even asked that I be considered resigned effective immediately. Tapos na iyun, we move forward. I’d like to talk substance,” he said.

Tolentino, who was accompanied by Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, went on to bare his plans if and when he is elected senator, which include the establishment of a National Disaster Recovery Agency as well as a National Urban Planning Commission to address problems in growing urban areas.

He noted that he has knowledge in these issues, having been chairman of the MMDA and mayor of Tagaytay City for several terms.

He said he also wants to engage in issues concerning the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Asked about the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila, Tolentino stressed anew that the MMDA is not the only one at fault.

READ: Manila traffic is worst in the world: Waze

He also cited the problems hounding the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) and the ongoing road constructions.

"It's not all me. I'm out of service right now, but what I'm saying is I have the experience, modesty aside, and I have the knowledge how to cure this, prevent this from happening," he said.

"What I'm saying is these are not all mine."

Tolentino, who holds a doctorate degree in international environmental law, said he wants to push for laws that will promote disaster preparedness and environmental sustainability. The former MMDA chairman was at the forefront of the recently held Metro-wide earthquake drill, as the metropolis prepares for a possible magnitude 7.2 earthquake that could be triggered by the movement of the West Valley Fault.

“I stand for the protection of natural environment and integrity of ecology so future generations of Filipinos can live sustainably,” he said.

He also promised to craft laws that will address urbanization problems, allow bigger revenue allotment for best-performing local government units, and create disaster recovery and rehabilitation fund for LGUs.