Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) has issued a statement in light of the unfortunate incident involving Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2019 Samantha Ashley Lo.
As I venture out to Venezuela I'm taking you all with me. Thank you to everyone for all the kindness and support even the support that's not so great lol, because it made me work harder. Can't stop won't stop🤙 keep on sharing and liking the official photo on the Miss Grand International page on Facebook ❤️ . MUA: @theleiponce Hairstylist: @iammjrone Designer: @raus1983 Accessories: @christophermunar Stylist: @misskeithmanila Photographed by: @raymondsaldana_klickbox . . . #binibiningpilipinas2019 #missgrandinternational2019 #beyondbeauty #giveSAMLOve #SamParaSaGrand
The statement, which was released on Monday, confirmed that Samantha was indeed detained by French authorities and was eventually sent back to Manila due to issues with her Philippine passport.
“The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officially stated that Ms. Lo's Philippine passport had been ‘tampered with and altered.’ During a meeting last week with Samantha, her parents and officials from the DFA and BPCI, it was admitted by Ms. Lo's parents, that she secured her passport through a ‘fixer,’” it added.
According to BPCI, Samantha holds a US passport and, therefore, didn’t need a transit visa, contrary to the beauty queen’s previous claim that her local organizer failed to equip her with the proper visa that may have enabled her to complete her trip to Venezuela.
“Past Binibini Queens have done this and have encountered no problems in their travels without transit visas,” it said.
BPCI went on: “It is also not true that BPCI did nothing to assist her. Upon hearing of her situation in Paris, we immediately called upon DFA to assist her, and they did. We are grateful for the intervention of Undersecretary Dulay, which otherwise would have resulted in very serious consequences for Samantha. We wanted to support Samantha and help her resolve this. However, in the last few days, we were no longer able to contact her or her family.
“Late Saturday night, Samantha surfaced in Caracas, Venezuela based on her social media post. We are very glad to know that she is not only safe but was welcomed by the MGI organization.”
BPCI said that it had chosen not to issue any statements in respect of an ongoing investigation into the matter and to protect Samantha's privacy after revelations of a fake passport had put her in the unfortunate situation.
“However, due to her social media post, BPCI is forced to make a statement to ensure that only facts are presented, nothing else,” it said.
“For over five decades, BPCI has been sending Filipina delegates to international beauty pageants and we have always adhered to travel requirements set by the countries where our Binibinis compete. Through all this, BPCI stands by integrity, honesty, and the best of Filipino values in its dealing with people and other organizations,” it added.
The statement came days after Samantha claimed that she didn’t receive enough support from her local organization amid the incident, stating that “it wasn’t them who got me out of detention and put me safely on that plane to come back home.”
“It was my family and other well-meaning Filipinos who did - and they are still not resting until this is over,” she added.
On the other hand, Samantha, who has since arrived in Venezuela, said she’s grateful for Miss Grand International for “welcoming me with open arms” despite her ordeal.
”You are an amazing organization that has showed me nothing but compassion and humanity from the very beginning. Thank you for accepting me and giving me the opportunity to represent my country,” she added.
Samantha will be representing the Philippines at the coronation night of the Miss Grand International 2019, which will be held on October 25 at the Poliedro de Caracas, Caracas, Venezuela.