In many ways, he shares common denominators with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, such as being a lawyer, a member of Lex Taliones fraternity, a San Beda alumnus, the son of a politician, a Mindanaoan, a Cabadbaranon, and a PDP-Laban stalwart. By his age and looks, he actually belongs to another generation.
Born in Cebu City on August 25, 1980, Mark Kristopher Tolentino is the son of George Tolentino, formerly Agusan governor and Philippine National Oil Corp. (PNOC) director, and Asuncion Tolentino, a businesswoman.
As a neophyte politico representing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) as federation president, his first foray in public office was a success, earning him the honor as the town’s youngest ever councilor (1996-2002), at age 15, of Cabadbaran City, hometown of the President’s late mother. As a member of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL), he was one of the youngest to join the national organization of local lawmakers.
Coming from a middle-class family, Tolentino, an honor student since his elementary and high school years, completed Political Science, cum laude, at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City. His tertiary years were made successful by the haul of awards he got.
After college, he pursued Bachelor of Laws at San Beda College of Law and his his Masters in Law from San Beda Graduate School of Law, where he graduated with honors and earned a thesis defense grade of 90 percent. Going up higher educationally, he took up and completed Doctor of Science of Jurisprudence (JSD) also from the same academic institution.
After passing the Bar, he joined the government in various capacities. In the academe, he made his mark as a college professor. He is a captain in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Reserved Command. For some time now he has been a respected broadcast personality.
Proud of his provinciano roots, Tolentino is active in legal affairs, extending free legal aid to the underprivileged and is a staunch defender of legal processes.
As a former public servant, he knows whereof he stands when it comes to politics. Even before President Rodrigo R. Duterte decided to contest the presidency, Tolentino already called caucuses supporting the move to endorse the former Davao City mayor to run for the highest position. He ran for mayor of Cabadbaran City in 2016 but failed. Despite the setback, as a PDP-Laban stalwart, he openly campaigned for Duterte who convincingly won in his hometown.
Through all the political undertakings he had participated, his advocacy against destructive mining practices and the support for mineral extractions that help develop host communities remain strong points in his personal crusade. He is committed to due process in addressing the violations, especially those that are attributed to the neglect of mining firms. His stance is for the balancing of interests between capitalism and labor and the environment.
Young, aggressive, and dynamic, he surely will go places. And given his sound advocacies, clear philosophies in life, and hands-on pro-people pursuits, he is a cinch to become one of the country’s future Cabinet material in the Duterte administration.