Miss Philippines Earth has disqualified three candidates ahead of finals night after failing to meet the minimum height requirements.

The three candidates were Michele Angela Okol of Surigao Del Norte, Cess Cruz of Antipolo City, and Renee Coleen Sta. Teresa of Batangas. They were still able to participate in the preliminary competitions but had been booted out of the competition only a day prior to the announcement of the Top 20 finalists.

It was Michele Angela who had been disqualified first, revealing the Miss Philippines Earth organization’s decision in a social media post.

“Many have been sending messages and well wishes regarding the Top 20 announcement for Miss Philippines Earth tomorrow. However, I, unfortunately, have to tell you all that I will no longer be able to push through with this journey,” she began.

“My family, team, and I have worked hard to build up all the materials and requirements for this pageant since earlier this year. However, we seem to have forgotten about one factor – my height. I was told that my height does not fit their pageant’s standards and that their organization would get bashed if they let someone below 5’4 push through the Top 20, hence, being grounds for disqualification. Had we been measured earlier on and that this was the case, it would have been much easier to figure out what to do since we’ve already prepared all that was sent as requirements for both our online and face-to-face competition. Nevertheless, I hold nothing against Miss Philippines Earth’s environmental advocacies and queens, and I am still grateful for the opportunity given to me.”

Many netizens proceeded to criticize the MPE organizers for the decision. Michele Angela then released a separate statement in the comments section to clarify the disqualification and to defend the organizer on their ruling.

“I have nothing against being disqualified because when we measured before the pageant, what our team saw on our end was very close to 5’4, and honestly decided to round up (of course, now that I’m no longer in the running – this has been proven otherwise on their side). Expecting that there would be a screening process, we patiently waited for the organization’s reply. We didn’t expect it to be an initial online screening, too; thus, I take account for overlooking this matter with the organization when I officially got accepted,” she said.

“We just wish the matter was settled sooner, even before the pre-pageant activities started, saving us all time, effort, and resources. It is a genuine concern, which I believe is valid for me and the other girls affected by this. Furthermore, my team and I are personally affected by the manner in which it was explained to me. I will no longer disclose more details on that except for what I have written in my previous statement.”

She then noted that she has “nothing against what Miss Philippines Earth stands for” and hopes that everyone would focus their attention on supporting the Miss Philippines Earth finalists.

Meanwhile, Cess Cruz revealed that she had been disqualified for measuring 5’3.5” despite being measured at the minimum 5’4” in her past commercials and projects. “I am still at a loss for words as this is my first national pageant, and I tried—did my best, and have come this far. It was the advocacy of Miss Earth that inspired me to put my passion for environmental change into action. The time, costs, and efforts I’ve dedicated up to now, only to be told that I’m ineligible before the announcement of the Top 20 delegates tomorrow, is disheartening. I deeply apologize for not meeting everyone’s expectations, and I respect their final decision. Nevertheless, I wish my fellow eco-sisters the best, and may the best woman bring honor to our country! I will be supporting them from afar,” she added.

Ayn Bernos, who competed alongside Michele Angela in the Miss Universe Philippines 2021 pageant, called out the organizers for “rejecting” the contestants “for something out of their control.”

“I find it ironic that an organization claiming to advocate for the flora and fauna of the Earth can’t hold the same compassion towards the women that walk their stage and promote their cause. How many more years of this — limiting the opportunities of women simply because of GENETICS? Because of what’s NATURAL to them?” she expressed. “Angela is a beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate soul, and she deserves her hard work to be recognized. She deserves respect.”

Miss Philippines Earth organizer Lorraine Schuck soon after released a statement to ABS-CBN News standing firm on their decision.

“I am sad at nakakahinayang talaga kasi ang gaganda nila (and it’s such a shame because they’re so beautiful) and they’re bright but we also have to be fair with other candidates who have complied with the requirements,” she stated.

(ALSO READ: Miss Universe Queens Reunite to Bring Awareness About Clefts in the Philippines)

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