MANILA (UPDATED) – Lorraine Schuck of Carousel Productions – the organization that owns and runs Miss Earth – revealed on Thursday that she has spoken with the sponsor who allegedly harassed some of the candidates in the Manila-based international pageant.
Schuck did not identify the sponsor, only describing him as someone who owns a property in Intramuros.
She said she was able to talk to him on October 15, a day after receiving word from Miss Earth 2018 candidates Jaime VandenBerg of Canada and Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown of England about the alleged harassment.
“Yes [nakausap ko siya] that day after the 14th noong nalaman ko, noong 15th. Nagalit pa ako sa kanya. Mabigat nga ‘yung mga nasabi ko dahil sa galit ko,” she recalled.
“Sabi ko, ‘Bakit mo naman ito ginaganito? Itong Miss Earth na nga lang ang nagpo-promote sa Pilipinas, sisiraan mo pa?’” she added.
Schuck said the sponsor denied the allegations and maintained that he only invited the Miss Earth candidates to go around the Philippines after the pageant – an offer which, he said, he extends every year.
“He denied the sexual advances,” she said. “Sinasabi niya sa akin na nagi-invite lang siya, which he does every year [daw]. ‘Who wants to stay?’ ‘Who wants to go around the Philippines?’ [Sabi niya] nangyayari din [ito] noon, sabi niya, ‘nagi-invite lang ako.’”
Schuck went on to clarify that the said sponsor does not have a say in the outcome of the Miss Earth pageant, contrary to what he allegedly told three of the candidates that he can help them win the crown.
“Wala siyang say [sa pageant]. Nag-sponsor siya ng three dinners kasi meron siyang lugar sa Intramuros and magandang lugar ‘yan, ‘yung tourist area. So isa o dalawang beses kumain doon ang mga girls. Tapos ‘yung isa, doon sa Yacht Club,” she explained.
“Kaya kami kumukuha doon [sa Intramuros area] kasi ang mga girls nakatira doon sa may Roxas Boulevard, so mas convenient.”
When asked if similar allegations have been brought up by previous candidates, Schuck replied: “Noon pa namin siya nakakasama, pero ngayon lang ito ganito. Noon nakakarinig ako [na nag-aaya siya], pero pinagtatawanan lang siya ng mga girls. [Sasabihin nila] ‘Oh, he’s inviting me!’ Ganun lang, binabalewala. This is the first time na merong nag-complain.”
As previously reported, Schuck ordered the sponsor to be banned from other Miss Earth 2018 events after she learned of the alleged sexual harassment incident.
But she said she could not do anything if he chooses to attend the coronation night, which is a public event.
“That was a public event, everyone can go and watch,” she said. “Iyong mga private parties, wala na siya. Pero ‘yung public, hindi mo naman mako-control kung sinong pupunta.”
Moving forward, the sponsor is “forever banned” from Miss Earth, according to Schuck.
“Iyong lalaking involved is forever banned with what happened. But of course, we still don’t know ‘yung side niya, ‘yung story niya. Ang sinasabi lang niya, ‘iniimbita ko lang sila mag-stay dito.’ Iyon lang ang sinasabi niya,” she said. “Siyempre ang sinasabi ng kabila na hawak namin, may ibig sabihin ‘yung sinabi niya.”
She also stressed that she supports the candidates who have come forward, believing that they will not make up stories about sexual harassment.
“I support naman all their [complaints]… Hindi naman sila mag-iimbento, di ba?” she said, adding, “Babae ako, may anak din akong babae. Hindi ko naman papayagang may basta-bastang iba [na mangha-harass sa kanila].”
In a separate statement, Schuck said she had requested all the delegates to submit a written statement in able to find out if they experienced a similar incident so that the organization can take appropriate action.
"I also wanted to find out if any of the other delegates could corroborate the complaint of Miss Canada and Miss England so we could use the statements to help the two in case they decided to file a case against the alleged harasser," she said.
"We were ready to support the two in any action they may have wished to take against the individual who offended them."
Schuck reiterated that the Miss Earth organization "does not condone nor tolerate any rude or immoral behavior towards the delegates by sponsors or anybody for that matter."