Chavit Singson: Miss Universe Philippines franchise 'already with me'

MANILA, Philippines – Former Ilocos Sur governor Luis  "Chavit" Singson said that he has acquired the Miss Universe Philippines franchise.

In an interview with the Philippine Star published Sunday, January 13, Singson told columnist Wilson Flores that the Philippine Miss Universe franchise is "already with [him]."

"True, the franchise is already with me, but it has not yet been announced. I think it shall be formally announced this January or February, when Catriona comes back again to the Philippines," Singson said. 

“Binibining Pilipinas Universe will be replaced with 'Miss Universe Philippines.' Noon pa binibigay sa akin ‘yan (I've been offered the franchise even before), because I’ve been helping them since 2016."

Candidates for the Miss Universe pageant are selected by local franchise owners. These local franchises are owned by either an individual or an organization. The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc (BPCI), which runs the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, has had the Miss Universe franchise since 1964. 

Singson said he first dealt with the Miss Universe Organization when the Philippines played host to the pageant in 2016. 

"I dealt with them for the hosting of the Miss Universe pageant here in the Philippines in 2016," Singson said. "Instead of talking to many companies before, they just talked to me and I then gave them a non-refundable deposit of $1 million. Who would disagree to that, non-refundable? I gained their trust. Before the signing in 2016, they even first asked me to pay $12 million."

When asked if he's trying to copy the style of US president Donald Trump who once owned the pageant, Singson joked his girlfriends are prettier.

He also confirmed that he's helping stage the Miss Universe 2019 in South Korea. "Before, it was held in Jeju island because it doesn’t require visas for foreign tourists. The 2019 Miss Universe will be unique because for the first time in history, North Korea will participate but no swimsuit portion for their candidate, only the national costume."

Last January 3, Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc (BPCI) chairperson Stella Araneta said the Philippine franchise is still with them, despite reports that Singson had already been offered the franchise. "It's still with us," she said. "If some people say something else, let them talk about it."

The Miss Universe Organization has yet to formally announce who will keep the Miss Universe Philippines franchise. – Rappler.com