Duterte on PH hosting Miss Universe: 'I wouldn't spend money on that'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – What does President Rodrigo Duterte have to say about the plans to host the next Miss Universe in the country?
"Dili ko [mugasto] (I would not spend money on that)," the President said in a relaxed conversation among friends at his official residence, Bahay Pagbabago, which included some journalists, when the topic was raised.
He said that the government has to prioritize other things, including its drive for higher infrastructure spending.
The cost of mounting the next Miss Universe pageant is estimated at around $10 to $12 million, according to a TV Patrol report.
The Philippines is being eyed as the next host country for the pageant, with top officials from the Miss Universe Organization – including president Paula Shugart and Shawn McClain, vice president for Marketing and Business Development – involved in talks. (READ: PH eyed to host Miss Universe in 2017)
The Department of Tourism (DOT), which has been a key contributor to efforts in bringing the pageant to the country, said that the private sector is being eyed to shoulder the budget.
In a message to Powerhouse PH on Instagram, DOT Undersecretary Kat de Castro said that "as of now, he did not say we will not host it. He just said he will not spend for it. The private sector will."
Previously, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in a statement that Duterte has "approved in principle" the proposal of her department to host the upcoming pageant.
The reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtbach, also recently made a visit to the country and discussed Miss Universe matters in a courtesy call with the President last July 18 in Malacañang Palace. Miss Universe officials Shugart, McClain, and Wurtzbach's manager, Esther Swan, were in attendance. (WATCH: Pia Wurtzbach meets with Duterte on Miss Universe plans)
"The President agreed that sponsoring the event would be a tourism marketing coup with the Philippines' Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach at the helm," Teo said in a statement.
"Sponsoring Miss Universe is our focus right now, with the plan and sources of funding in tow. We are ready to seize the moment." – with reports from Editha Caduaya/Rappler.com