Philippines’ Maria Luisa Varela wins Miss Planet International 2023; Herlene Budol’s manager reacts

MANILA, Philippines — Maria Luisa Varela has been crowned Miss Planet International 2023 in Cambodia, drawing a reaction from vlogger and pageant director Wilbert Tolentino.

Varela competed at the coronation night held yesterday, January 29, in Koh Pich Theater, Phnom Penh City.

Zimbabwe's Jemima Mandemwa and Japan's Aya Ono are 1st runner-up and 2nd runner-up, respectively.

Other winners include Tiffany Ha (3rd Runner Up – Vietnam), Katarina Juselius (4th Runner Up – Finland), Alina Safronova (5th Runner Up – Latvia) and Pok Srevleak (6th Runner Up – Cambodia).

The Miss Planet International (MPI) was mired with controversy late last year when Binibining Pilipinas 2022 1st runner-up Herlene Nicole Budol, together with her manager and MPI national director Wilbert Tolentino, had to back out due to several mishaps prior to landing and while joining the pre-pageant activities in Uganda, where it was supposed to be held.

Related: 'Due to uncertainties': Herlene Nicole Budol withdraws from Miss Planet International 2022 pageant

With Varela's win, Tolentino aired his scathing remarks on his Instagram today.

He claimed that the competition was rigged, and that the Philippine contestant was already aware of the finals question.

"FYI lang po guys, bayad po ang Korona ang na panalunan ng Miss Planet Philippines at alam na nya final Question. Bago cya lumipad ng #Cambodia para sumabak ng MPI.

"Ate Girl (Maria Luisa) lumaban ka ng patas kawawa din mga co candidate mo at nag eeffort din cla para sa Pageant sinalihan nila at mag travel pa sila patungong #Cambodia," Tolentino wrote.

He had also called out a certain Miki Antonio, with whom he has been figuring out in the issue regarding the national directorship of Miss Planet International Philippines.

"Kaya kht balik baliktarin natin ang dokumento ako parin ang NATIONAL DIRECTOR ng MISS PLANET PHILIPPINES. Klaro po tayo?" he wrote.

He added: "Nag reach out ako sa iyo at ikinwento ko pa sayo na mahigit kami 60plus Countries na indi mag Susupporta sa MPI. Dala sa karansan ng trauma at takot lahat sa #Uganda. As National Director for Ms Planent in the Philippines, I would like to clarify that no replacement has been made. The Philippines will not send any representative to Ms. Planet competition this year."

RELATED: 'Isang bangungot': Wilbert Tolentino reveals Hipon Girl's 'traumatic' Miss Planet International experience

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