MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has "approved in principle" the proposal of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to host the next Miss Universe pageant in the country.
According to a press release online, DOT Secretary Wanda Teo made the announcement during a meeting with tourism leaders this week.
"The President agreed that sponsoring the event would be a tourism marketing coup with Philippines’ Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach at the helm," Teo said.
Wurtzbach is also scheduled to return to the Philippines soon and meet with Duterte. The reported meeting is scheduled on July 18. (READ: Pia Wurtzbach to meet Duterte about plans for Miss Universe in PH – report)
During her Live Facebook chat Tuesday, July 12, Wurtzbach hinted that she will be coming back "very soon" and that she's hoping that the next Miss Universe pageant will be held in Manila, although she didn't say it outright.
"You know what, I'm still waiting for the confirmation on really when it's gonna happen," she said.
"Right now, it's in the works. But hopefully – hopefully, fingers crossed – it's the one that I've been praying for. And I guess you know what that is, so let's just hope for the best."
In the press release, Teo said they are now working to make the plans a reality.
"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 added: "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.”
If plans push through, places such as Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu will be part of the tour of the candidates.
Earlier, TV Patrol reported that the Miss Universe Organization is hoping to hold the pageant on January 30, 2017 in Manila, but the event can only push through by way of an executive order from President Duterte.
"Ang problem natin, it's too soon. May Sinulog, Chinese New Year. Medyo gipit. So siguro, we will ask them to move it to probably May, would be the best month," Teo explained. "But I will have to ask the approval of the President kasi executive order din 'yan."
(Our problem is it's too soon. There's Sinulog, Chinese New Year. We're pressed for time. So maybe, we will ask them to move it to probably May, would be the best month. But I will have to ask the approval of the President because that needs an executive order.)
DOT Undersecretary Kat de Castro earlier confirmed this month that Teo met with the executives of the Miss Universe Organization – led by its president Paula Shugart – about the possibility of the Philippines hosting the pageant. – Rappler.com