Winners of national pageant cry foul over unpaid prizes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 06:25 PM

The winners of Miss Philippines 2019. Screengrab from YouTube

MANILA -- Five beauty queens may soon file charges against the president of a pageant they joined last year, saying they have yet to fully receive their cash prizes.

Miss Philippines 2019 Arlove De Jesus and her four runners-up -- Jamilla Van Gestel (first), Joanna Valencia (second), Camille Llorente (third), and Charity Dawn Jamon (fourth) -- expressed their frustration over the organization's president, Victor Torre, in a virtual interview on the online show "Raffy Tulfo in Action" on Wednesday.

Llorente pointed out that runners-up like her were promised to be given the full amount of their cash prizes two months after the pageant. 

Grand winner De Jesus, on the other hand, was supposed to receive her P200,000 prize in two installments, with the second scheduled six months after the competition.

"After two months, nag-meeting kami," Llorente said. "Tapos inisyuhan kami ng tseke, kaming apat. Si Joanna (Valencia, second runner-up) hindi po nakarating since taga-Batangas po siya."

"Noong ni-release po 'yung tseke namin, nagulat po ako kasi half amount 'yung tseke," she added. "Nag-message na lang po ako after ng meeting na 'yun na bakit half lang, kasi according po sa contract na sinign namin before coronation, dapat full amount na po kapag runners-up."

"Tapos kapag winner po, after six months 'yung other half since medyo malaki nga po. P200K 'yung winner, tapos ako po P50k."

According to Llorente, Torre proceeded to meet them at the Miss Philippines Foundation office at Taft Avenue last January, supposedly to talk about the unpaid cash prizes.

But she said that instead of getting paid, they were told that their contracts with Miss Philippines have been amended without their consent.

"Biglaang binawi 'yung kontrata kasi sinabi ko po na, 'President, sa pagkakaalam ko po dapat po full amount na po ang mare-receive namin.' Pero unfortunately, sinabi niya na half na lang ang mare-receive for now after two months, and then the other half after six months," Llorente said. 

She went on: "Since under daw kami ng contract for a year under the organization, parang ayaw daw po niya na biglaan kaming mawawala nang ganun-ganun. Baka raw takbuhan namin kapag nakuha na 'yung full amount." 

Llorente then revealed that she was threatened by Torre if she will keep insisting on getting the full amount of her cash prize.

"Parang sinabihan po ako noon na, 'Gusto mo 'di na kita ilaban sa international [pageant] tapos ibibigay ko na lang 'yung full amount sa 'yo?' Ginanun po ako ni president," she said.

"Siyempre po 'di na po kami umimik, sumunod na lang po kami," she admitted. "On the spot binawi 'yung contract and wala kaming copy noong contract na bago po. Iyong luma lang po 'yung meron sa amin." 

As the grand winner of Miss Philippines, De Jesus said she is "very disappointed" with the organization.

"Sobra po akong na-disappoint saka di ko po akalain na ganoon 'yung mangyayari sa organization na 'to. Kasi we expect more from them po eh," she said. "Tapos ganoon po 'yung nangyari, na kami pa po 'yung naghahabol sa kanila na dapat hindi po namin gawain." 

SECRETARY ALSO NOT PAID

To get the side of Torre on the matter, Tulfo called up Anne Cabrera, the secretary of Miss Philippines Foundation. 

But he was surprised when he found out that even Torre's secretary was also not properly compensated.

"Hindi na namin siya ma-contact eh," Cabrera said of her boss. "Sabi po magbabayad po siya sa mga winners... Tapos pati rin daw po sa akin."

"Ano po 'yun, two months na po kasi hinahayaan ko lang po siya noon. Pero pumapasok pa rin ako sa office," she added. 

When asked where she thinks Torre is staying at the moment, Cabrera said she knows the home address of her boss.

Tulfo then told the five beauty queens that he will help them file charges against the Miss Philippines Foundation president.

He consulted Atty. Garreth Tungol via video call, with the lawyer responding that they could file a large-scale estafa case against Torre.

"Dapat kasuhan ng large-scale estafa dahil sa dami ng dapat niyang bayaran. Kung titingnan po natin, hundreds of thousands worth of cash prizes po ang hindi niya binibigay, but ginagamit pa rin niya 'yung effort and 'yung time ng kanyang mga nanalo na tao," he said. "Dahil without their presence, hindi naman kikita itong pageant niya." 

According to Tungol, Torre could face imprisonment of up to 12 years if he is proven guilty. 

Watch the beauty queens' interview below:

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