Janine Tugonon won't endorse politicians 'for the money'

Posted at 02/15/13 4:44 PM

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MANILA, Philippines -- There is a slim chance that Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up Janine Tugonon will be endorsing a political candidate leading up to the May mid-term elections.

Janine Tugonon and President Aquino. File photo

The 23-year-old Bataan beauty is seen to be a valuable backer to political aspirants, having represented the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant last year and placing second to crowned winner Miss USA Olivia Culpo.

But Tugonon, who continues to fufill her duties as the reigning Bb. Pilipinas, said she is inclined to avoid being identified with any election candidate.

"Mahirap kasi ma-tag-an ka eh, mahirap 'yun. Mas maganda na neutral lang. Basta ako, I'll vote. I promise I'll vote. Pero endorse, not so sure. Definitely not for the money, kasi kung for the money, parang binenta ko lang 'yung sarili ko, and it's really not nice," she told ABS-CBN News.

In 2010, former Senator Jamby Madrigal said tapping celebrity endorsers can cost as much as P30 million. When she ran for a seat in Senate in 2004, Madrigal had actress Judy Ann Santos as her endorser.

Leading up to the mid-term elections in May, big-name celebrities continue to appear as endorsers of political candidates -- among them Sarah Geronimo, Coco Martin and Dingdong Dantes.

"For me naman, I have nothing against it," Tugonon said. "I know na 'yung mga politicians, they have different ways of campaigning."

"Ako personally, kung kilala ko talaga 'yung tao, kung nakita ko na siya kung paano siya mag-govern, [tsaka ko lang siya ii-endorso]. Pero siguro 'yung percentage na papayag ako is very small, kasi ayoko muna pumasok sa ganoon," she said.

Asked for her opinion on celebrities who are now being identified with certain political candidates, Tugonon added, "Syempre naman, it's not just for ourselves but for the country. Lalo na pag may influence ka na, marami ka talagang mai-influence, so make sure na pipili ka rin."

While she prefers to keep distance from the elections, Tugonon sang praises for President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who she met on Wednesday during a courtesy call. Tugonon was joined by the Filipina victor in the Miss Tourism International 2012 pageant, Rizzini Alexis Gomez, at the Music Room inside the Malacañang Palace.

"Alam mo 'yung hindi ako makapagsalita. Ang dami niyang sinasabi, nagke-kwento siya, parang ako, speechless talaga ako. Talaga bang president 'to? Hindi ako makapinawala na I'm talking to the president of the Philippines," Tugonon said.

"For me, that's really a big thing. He's the one running our country. He's doing a really, really great job. So ako, hindi talaga ako makapaniwala, natameme ako, sobra... Ang sabi naman niya good luck, and thank you for making the country proud and for representing our country well internationally. And I thank him for that, for appreciating me," she said.