Tolentino faces complaint before Ombudsman over 'Playgirls' dance

MANILA, Philippines – Labor groups on Wednesday, October 7, filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino over a controversial dance performance at a lawmaker's birthday party in Laguna last week.

Based on the complaint, Tolentino is accused of violating Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women.

The groups' lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, told radio dzMM that Tolentino violated ethical standards when he allegedly hired an all-female group known as "Playgirls" to perform at the birthday party of Laguna Representative Benjamin Agarao. 

In the performance, the girls gyrated and twerked onstage with male audience members. It was held after the oath taking of 80 new Liberal Party members.

The host at the event repeatedly announced that the girls were brought in as Tolentino's "gift" for the attendees, but the MMDA chief denied this.

The LP has promised an investigation into the incident, as women's groups and other sectors called on the ruling party to hold accountable those responsible for the event.

Critics have also called for his exclusion from the LP's senatorial lineup. Tolentino earlier announced his plans to run for a Senate seat under the LP banner, but in the aftermath of the controversy, he has asked the LP to remove him from its 2016 ticket.

COMPLAINT. Lawyer Lorna Kapunan joins leaders of different labor groups in filing a complaint against MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino before the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City on Wednesday, October 7, 2015. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

COMPLAINT. Lawyer Lorna Kapunan joins leaders of different labor groups in filing a complaint against MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino before the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Kapunan said there are other unnamed respondents in the complaint. She said other public officials may be included in the complaint once the LP completes its internal investigation.

She also said that the complaint also accuses Tolentino of dereliction of duty. The MMDA chief has been visiting provinces outside Metro Manila for various engagements. He earlier defended his trips, saying he has been invited to speak at these events.

"In the code of conduct for public officials, they have an obligation to fulfill their function mandated by law. It's clear in the complaint that there was dereliction of duty," Kapunan said.

She added, "The events he attends nationwide are done during office hours. That's why traffic is chaotic, because he is not fulfilling his functions as chairman of the MMDA." – Rappler.com