Duterte says no to Miss Universe pageant hosting

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /27 July) — “I will not waste money on that.”

President Rodrigo Duterte has turned down the invitation for the Philippines to host the 2017 Miss Universe contest saying there are priorities that require funding, among them his promise to attend to the needs of the poor, and rehabilitation centers to treat drug addicts nationwide.

“Dili ko. Gasto” (I don’t like. Expensive), Duterte said, adding, “I will not waste money on that.”

ELFIE WITH THE PREXY. Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach takes a selfie with President Rodrigo R. Duterte after a courtesy call at the Malacañan Palace on Monday, July 18, 2016. KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD
SELFIE WITH THE PREXY. Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach takes a selfie with President Rodrigo R. Duterte after a courtesy call at the Malacañan Palace on July 18, 2016. KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD

Duterte spoke with MindaNews and Editha Caduaya, Rappler’s Davao City correspondent, at the living room of his official residence, Bahay Pagbabago (known during the Benigno Aquino administration as “Bahay Pangarap”) shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday, while drinking his favorite canned soda paired with ubeng turon that partner Honeylet Avancena brought from Davao City early Monday morning.

“Sinabi ko talaga kay Wanda (I told Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo) that I will not spend a single centavo on that,” he said.

The Philippines hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974 and 1994.

Teo said hosting the contest would require spending 12 million US dollars (at PhP 560 million).

A press release of the Department of Tourism on July 14 said Duterte “has approved in principle” Teo’s proposal to host Miss Universe contest in 2017.

”The President agreed that sponsoring the event would be a tourism marketing coup with Philippines’ Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach at the helm,” the DOT press release quoted Teo as saying.

It said Teo “assured that commercial sponsors have offered to put up part of the franchise money.”

“Sponsoring Miss Universe is our focus right now, with the plan and sources of funding in tow. We are ready to seize the moment,” she said.

Teo, owner and President of the Mt. Apo Travel and Tours in Davao City is President of the National Association and Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS). A graduate of BS Business Adminstration at the St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, she is a member of the Davao Travel Agencies Association (DTAA), the Davao Association of Tour Operators (DATO) and the Davao Regional Tourism Council (DRTC).

Teo is sister of Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo and TV 5’s Erwin, Raffy and Ben.

Teo, according to the press release, “hatched the plan to host Miss Universe 2016 as soon as she took over the Department of Tourism last week, saying it would definitely have a greater impact than any other event.”

“Once Pia announces that Miss Universe is going to happen here, people abroad will start looking at the map and see where the Philippines is. And, we’re saying, we’d love to have you in Philippines,” Teo added.

Teo said segments of the month-long beauty pageant will be in various tourist sites in Palawan, Boracay and Cebu, which topped the World’s Best Islands 2016 awards by the Travel & Leisure magazine.

Earlier in an interview with ABS-CBN, she said parts of the contest would be held “probably” in Cebu and Davao.

In the 1994 pageant, Davao city was among the areas visited by the contestants.

The 1994 pageant was funded through sponsorship from the private sector but government ended up spending for the shortfall.

Wurtzbach paid a courtesy call on the President on July 18, accompanied by Teo.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, tourism merited one paragraph out of the nearly two-hour speech.

Duterte said that in the field of tourism, “we shall construct more access roads and tourism gateways to service centers and tourist sites.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)