Amid reports quoting President Duterte as saying that the Miss Universe pageant was not a priority of his administration and that he would not spend money on it, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo announced on Thursday that the international beauty tilt “will be held on Jan. 30, 2017, here in the Philippines.”
An executive order will soon be issued regarding this, Teo said, adding that the government won’t be spending “a single centavo” for the event as “the private sector will shoulder the expenses,” estimated at $11 million.
Following reports about the President’s reservations and the public perception that the event won’t be staged in the Philippines after all, Teo said she called up Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to ask if the Department of Tourism could make the announcement about the pageant being held here.
“He said yes,” Teo said, adding that the main event will most likely be held at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Other events related to the pageant are expected to be held in several tourist spots in the country, including Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Palawan, Boracay, Cebu and Vigan.
The tourism official had proposed holding the beauty pageant here, with current Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach paying a courtesy call on President Duterte earlier this month and enlisting his support for the proposal.
“The President agreed that sponsoring the event will be a tourism marketing coup with [Filipino] Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach at the helm,” Teo said in a statement on July 14.
“We have a President who comes from Mindanao, and our Miss Universe is from Mindanao, so I think this is the best time for us to do the Miss Universe here in the Philippines,” she added.
The Philippines will be fielding 2016 Binibining Pilipinas- Universe Maxine Medina, 25, a former commercial model and Philippine Airlines flight attendant.
The country has hosted the pageant twice, in 1974 and 1994, with Miss Spain Amparo Muñoz and Miss India Sushmita Sen winning the crown, respectively.