Duterte okays Miss Universe pageant but at no cost to PH government


After 23 years, the Philippines will host anew the prestigious Miss Universe pageant following President Duterte’s go signal after an assurance that the Philippine government will not spend a single centavo. The event is estimated to cost $11 million.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President initially frowned upon hearing that the beauty contest would cost the Philippine government the said amount.

“Basically, when it was first broached to the President, he said it is going to be expensive… up to the tune of $11 million. That was his assumption,” said Abella.

“I think he has been assured this time that the Philippine government will not be giving out a single centavo except of course in terms of certain services, protection and security. But not in actual cash out,” said Abella.

But after getting assurances that the government will not shoulder the expenses with the private sector footing the bill, Abella related that Duterte agreed to host the Miss Universe pageant.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said the pageant will be held on Jan. 30, 2017, at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the private sector shouldering the funds to run the prestigious beauty tilt.

She noted that several individuals and companies from the private sector — including tycoon Henry Sy and Japanese casino mogul Kazuo Okada — have expressed their interest in sponsoring the event.

Reigning Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach along with the officials from the Miss Universe Organization earlier met with Duterte in a courtesy call at Malacañang to personally convince him to accept the Philippine bid to host the pageant.

Binibining Pilipinas Universe Maxine Medina will represent the Philippines in the 2017 beauty pageant.

The Philippines last hosted the Miss Universe tilt in 1994, which crowned Sushmita Sen of India as winner. The country first hosted the pageant in 1974, when Margie Moran relinquished her title to Amparo Muñoz of Spain.

The last Miss Universe was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Wurtzbach won the crown, ending a 42-year drought for the Philippines.

Beauty queens competing for the crown will start arriving by January 15 and will spend about two weeks in the country.

While the main event of the Miss Universe pageant would be in Manila, Teo said they are considering five other locations like Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Boracay, Cebu and Palawan.

Teo said Manila and the five other locations are popular tourist destinations. She said both Boracay and Palawan are recognized for their picturesque beaches while Cebu’s Sinulog Festival regularly attracts both local and foreign travelers.

She noted that Davao and Cagayan de Oro have recently gained particular significance. The former is the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte while the latter is where reigning Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach grew up. (MCA)