PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to talk to the organizers of the Miss Universe to replace Steve Harvey, who will be hosting the beauty pageant in the Philippines in 2017, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, Teo revealed that during her meeting with Duterte to discuss the preparations for the Miss Universe 2017, the President seemed unhappy when he learned that Harvey would remain the host of the prestigious event.
“When I told the President about that, his statement was kind of negative. ‘That should not happen.’ That’s what he said,” Teo said.
“That’s what he told me during our meeting with them. ‘I’m going to talk to the Miss Universe because I don’t want him (Harvey) to be the host of Miss Universe,'" she added.
Harvey became controversial when he erroneously announced that the Miss Universe 2015 was Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez. But few minutes after the announcement , he returned onstage and clarified that it was Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach who was the “real winner.”
Despite the President’s opposition, Teo said placing Harvey as the host of Miss Universe 2017 is a “final” decision because he has five-year contract with the organization.
Asked what is Duterte’s specific reason why he does not want Harvey, Teo said: “He’s somehow joking when he told me... I don’t know if he’s serious but when he told me, somehow, he was not laughing so he’s kind of serious."
Teo said that to ease Duterte’s disapproval, she would suggest to get a female media personality to co-host the event.
“Perhaps, that’s what I’m going to do so the President will not get mad. Perhaps, I will look for a girl from the Philippines [who] will co-host. Probably, one for the media,” Teo said.
Preparations already in place
Teo said that the government is already coordinating with the pageant organizers to finalize the schedule of the candidates’ activities and the grand coronation night.
She said that the candidates are expected to arrive in the Philippines by January 13, 2017 for the grand coronation night, which will be held at the Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City on January 30.
To avoid traffic jam in Metro Manila, Teo said the pre-pageants will be held in a hotel in another cities. Also, the candidates, she said, are slated to have a tour in provinces like Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
“We have transferred the events in the provinces to lessen traffic here in the Philippines, in Manila. That’s why we have moved it in the provinces. Only main events will be in Manila and it will be at MOA Arena,” she said.
No security threats to date
Teo also guaranteed that security measures were heightened to ensure that all the candidates will be safe when they arrive in the Philippines.
As of now, she said that the government has not received any security threat from any extremist groups.
“We do not actually worry about that (security threats) because the military will take care of that. We've been coordinating. We've been meeting with the National Security Council,” she said.
She also noted that the government troops have been designated to take care of the candidates when they visit provinces in the country.
Foreign tourist arrivals expected to rise
While the Duterte administration is not expecting revenue directly out of hosting Miss Universe, Teo stressed that tourism in the Philippines will surely spike up after the pageant.
“I’m sure that after the Miss Universe, the Philippines will be in the world map. Everybody will be looking at us because during the Miss Universe contest, all the beautiful places, destinations will be featured,” Teo said.
“We're not focused on the monetary considerations because we will not get any money from here…For us, the tourist arrivals [will go up] – the tourists [who] will come here after the Miss Universe and during the Miss Universe,” she added.
Meanwhile, Teo maintained that the government will not spend any single fund for the hosting of the event and noted that it was the private sector, specifically from the group of former Ilocos Sur governor Luis Singson, that will shell out the money.
She said that Singson’s group had already raised half of of $11 million it promised to raise.
“I’m very sure that the government is not going to spend any money for the Miss Universe,” Teo said.
“So far, DOT is not going to spend any money, as I have promised the President. And it is the private sector, which is our partner – Chavit Singson’s group. They’re going to raise $11 million fund for the Miss Universe… I believe he has already raised half of that, which is the requirement of the Miss Universe – 60 percent down payment,” she added.
Asked then if Singson is expecting something in return, she said, "None. They are just the ones that will put out the money, will shell out the money." (Sunnex)