It turns out President Duterte has no objections to Harvey’s hosting of the Miss Universe pageant in Manila in January, despite his earlier statement to the contrary.
According to Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, Mr. Duterte’s earlier expression of disapproval appeared to have been a joke, since he let out a hearty laugh when he learned that the American TV host-comedian was again being tapped as emcee of the international beauty contest after his epic blunder in announcing the wrong winner last year.
De Castro said that when she told Mr. Duterte that Harvey would have to host the event, the President said the TV host was welcome in the Philippines.
In fact, an encounter is being planned between the two, De Castro said.
“I and Secretary Martin Andanar, we are planning a gimmick (pakulo) between the President and Steve Harvey. So wait for it. And the Miss Universe Organization is very much open to whatever it is that we are planning to do,” she said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
Business as usual
It’s business as usual when the Philippines hosts the Miss Universe pageant in January.
The President wants no road closures, no relocating the homeless, no swimsuit competition in Davao City.
“When we presented it to President Duterte, that’s the first thing he said: No roads would be closed, no people would be hidden. We should show the beauty of the Philippines, that despite poverty, there is beauty in the country,” she said.
Ban on swimsuits
De Castro said the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the pageant organizers have decided that the preliminaries would be held at the Mall of Asia compound, so that the entourage need not travel long distances.
Mr. Duterte also reminded the organizers that Davao City has a ban on swimsuits in beauty pageants so the swimsuit competition would be held in Cebu, she said.
“He said, ‘Yes, hold it in Cebu because in Davao, I will not relax my rules on not having the swimsuit competition in the province,’” she said.
De Castro also said the DOT would want Mr. Duterte to be a judge or to at least attend the pageant.
There is a rule in the Miss Universe Organization not to have a judge from the host country, but De Castro thinks that if it’s the President, an exception could be made.
But she also said Mr. Duterte has not made any commitment to attend or to judge the beauty contest.
“I think his men are aware that we would like him to be part of it, to judge it or just to watch it. But he has not yet given us a concrete answer,” she said.