Bong Villanueva (2nd from right) during his press conference on March 3, 2022.

Pageant organizer Edgardo “Bong” Villanueva on Thursday vowed to pursue “legal action” against Miss Palawan 2021 Klaidel Hope Concepcion for allegedly publishing false accusations against the Miss Palawan Charities Incorporated (MPCI), the group behind the recently concluded Ms. Palawan-Universe pageant.

This, even as the city government’s treasurer, also on Thursday, separately urged the legal office to initiate a probe on MPCI.

Villanueva, in a press conference he called in response to Concepcion’s social media posts attacking the MPCI, denied the latter’s claims against the legitimacy of his group.

Villanueva claimed that MPCI’s SEC Registration application has already been filed with the regulatory body, stating that they were only delayed by the pandemic.

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Villanueva also denied the latter’s accusation that MPCI was making illegal tax deductions from the award prizes received by the winning contestants in the pageant.

“Wala kaming sinabi sa inyo na ibabawas ng 32 percent tax kasi mismong nagbigay sa amin ang nagsabi na ang 32 percent ay mapunta na ‘yan sa inyo,” Villanueva said.

“Ang 32 na sinasabi niya, 12 percent will proceed to Miss Palawan Charity, pondo namin ‘yan para just in case na may manalo, iyan ang pondo namin para itulong naman sa mananalo, gagastusin dahil wala kaming fund, non-profit nga kami,” he added. 

“Next is, itong 20 percent – sinabi ng sponsor sa amin, not to mention the name of the sponsor dahil nakalagay dito may agreement kami. Ang 20 percent should go to the production like sounds, staff, and everything,” he said. 

Villanueva stressed that MPCI is a “legitimate” nonprofit organization, even as he admitted that the filing of their SEC registration application had been delayed because of the pandemic lockdowns.

Recently crowned Miss Palawan Universe 2022 Luisa Gallardo and Miss Palawan 2019 winner Jennifer Linda  also threw their support behind MPCI, claiming there was no exploitation by the organizers from their monetary awards.

“About sa sponsorship, there was no exploitation happened. Ang winners ay nanalo because of their hard work and sacrifices, their effort. I was with my mother the whole time, even on rehearsals. Alam ng lahat ‘yan ng Miss Palawan staff and candidates and wala akong time para makipag-usap sa mga sponsor, makipag-date or whatever,” Gallardo said.

“Never kami naka-experience ng exploitation, wala talaga—may post siya na tagal ang bigay ng bayad niya. Syempre, malaking organization ang Miss Palawan Incorporated, parang given na medyo may delay. Ang problema lang sa kaniya (Concepcion) tito is minamadali niya lahat, gusto niya kunin ng buo na nakalimutan niya kung ano nakasaad sa contract na may babawasang ganito,” Linda added.

“Sa contract kasi, 50 percent upon pag nanalo ka, may bibigay sa iyong cash. The 50 percent pagtatrabuhan mo yon, well in fact may utang pa siya sa akin,” Villanueva said.

Probe MPCI

Meanwhile, the City Treasurer’s Office, in a letter sent today (Thursday) to the City Legal Office, pointed out that MPCI has been operating since 2018 without a SEC registration, mayor’s permit, accreditation from DSWD, and Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Abayari claimed that MPCI had been holding paid events supposedly subject to 10 percent amusement tax. She urged the city government to initiate an investigation and if warranted, file appropriate charges against Villanueva and MPCI. 

“We have prior experiences with Bong Villanueva giving us a run-around, giving us difficulties in the collection of amusement taxes and had an instance of paying us with a bouncing check,” she said.

“Much to our desire and effort to implement our ordinance no. 794, otherwise known as the “Revised Revenue Code of Puerto Princesa City of 2016” and to advance our collection mandate, this brazen and unscrupulous acts of MPCI has undermine it and is a mockery in the implementation of our ordinances,” she added.

Villanueva said these allegations will be handled by his lawyer.

“Dapat sa proper forum yan. Let my legal sasagot sa kanila,” he said.

Earlier, Concepcion asked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to step into the controversy, claiming that “tax deductions” were made by MPCI illegally as it had no SEC registration.

Commenting on this allegation, Villanueva explained that the 32 percent was not a tax, but instead a fund of the charity to be used to support production expenses. 

Villanueva called out Concepcion over her social media posts against MPCI, denying her allegations.

“I just want to correct the impression, hindi kami scammer, hindi kami manloloko. Nandito lahat ‘yan and she has the contract to us bago siya lumaban sa Miss Palawan,” he said.

“Kausap ko na rin ‘yong lawyer ko, pinag-aaralan lahat kasi dito sa facebook na tinatag niya pa ako, ibang tao dinadamay niya na so malalaman ito. Antayin niyo na lang para mas—ilagay natin sa tama, ayusin natin, doon tayo sa totoo at dapat,” he added.

Legitimacy of Miss Palawan 2021 title

Villanueva narrated that in 2019, the Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) reached out to him to ask if there would be a candidate to represent Palawan. He said they had no formal partnership in the beginning until MPCI entered into a formal partnership with the MUPH on March 1, 2022, when they were issued a certificate of accreditation as a partner, signed by the national director Shamcey Supsup-Lee.

“Sinabi kong first ever ‘yon dahil ito, nagkaroon na talaga kami ng formal partnership with Miss Universe Ph. Every year nagbibigay yan sa akin ng accreditation partner, ito talaga parati ang hinahawakan ko. Doon talaga ako lagi sa legalities, mamaya pag sabihin ko, wala ako papel, baka sabihin na naman scammer, four years na ang Miss Palawan,” he said.

“The way I see [it], noong hindi mo nilaban ang Miss Palawan sa universe parang wala kang karapatan, Miss Palawan ka lang,” he added, pertaining to the claim of Concepcion as Miss Palawan Universe title holder.

Palawan News tried to get Concepcion’s reaction to the statements made by Villanueva but has yet to receive a reply.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.