Playgirls: Tolentino got us for his brother’s campaign

MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino is denying links to the controversial “Playgirls,” the female dancers who treated politicians to a performance mimicking sexual positions.

But a Facebook post by the sexy group from the last elections is haunting the administration's senatorial bet. 

In a Facebook post on April 11, 2013, the group of sexy dancers thanked Tolentino “for having Playgirls” at the campaign of his brother, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who ran and won as Cavite congressman in the May 2013 elections. 

The Playgirls wrote: “Thank you MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino for having PLAYGIRLS at the Campaign of outgoing Mayor of Tagaytay and (sic) now running for Congressman for the 7th District of Cavite, Mayor Bambol Tolentino.”

Then on May 14, 2013, or a day after the last elections, the Playgirls congratulated Tolentino’s brother, Bambol, for winning as congressman of the 7th district of Cavite.

The Playgirls said, “Congratulations to all the politicians we campaigned (sic) this Election 2013. Lahat WINNERS!” (They were all WINNERS!)

The group then posted photos and a list of politicians they claimed to have campaigned for, including Emilio Ramon Ejercito, who won but was later disqualified as Laguna governor.

The Playgirls ended the Facebook post by saying, “Maraming salamat sa tiwala sa PLAYGIRLS!” (Thank you for trusting the PLAYGIRLS!)

Among the clients they listed were:

Among those who hired the group to dance at their campaign events, 5 are with the Liberal Party: the Tolentino brothers, Hernandez, Violago, and Veneracion.

Rappler is still trying to reach Tolentino for comment as of posting time.

Netizens pointed out the links between the Playgirls and Tolentino’s brother, Bambol, as the MMDA chairman tried to distance himself from this group of dancers.

Tolentino: ‘I was just a guest’

Tolentino on Thursday, October 1, denied that he brought the Playgirls as a “gift” for Laguna 4th District Representative Benjamin Agarao. The Playgirls danced at Agarao’s birthday party, held after the oath-taking of 80 Liberal Party (LP) officials in Agarao’s residence. 

The former long-time mayor of Tagaytay City in Cavite, Tolentino said: "Please hear my side of the story about certain materials circulating online: I was just a guest at the birthday party. I did not bring any dancers/singers. The emcee probably got misinformed." 

Agarao – who was also linked to the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history – also denied that Tolentino brought the Playgirls.

The standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), Manuel Roxas II, said the LP will investigate the incident

While the Playgirls claimed to have performed in other campaigns, LP vice chairman and Senate President Franklin Drilon described the Playgirls’ lewd performance in Laguna as a “sorry, isolated case.”

Critics, on the other hand, said the LP should sanction or even kick out Tolentino and Agarao.

The issue erupted a few days before the LP, chaired by President Benigno Aquino III, is expected to confirm that Tolentino is part of its senatorial slate.

The controversy also stirred debates about the propriety of contracting sexy dancers for political campaigns, as well as for other activities. Performances like this, after all, happen as well in events of other political parties. (READ: Sexism, ‘Playgirls,’ and the Liberal Party

Based on the group’s Facebook posts for the past few years, the Playgirls have also performed in events of private companies, fiestas, and even a 7th birthday party. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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