MANILA, Philippines – If tourism officials have their way, President Rodrigo Duterte will be one of the judges at the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines in January.
“Apparently, it is a rule for the Miss Universe Organization not to have a judge from the host country but I think if it’s the President, I think they will make an exception to the rule,” Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro said in a Palace news briefing on Friday, December 9.
Based on the roster of judges in previous pageants, the rule had been relaxed. In the 2015 Miss Universe held in Las Vegas, 3 of the telecast judges are American citizens: Emmitt Smith, Niecy Nash, and Perez Hilton.
De Castro, among the tourism officials who pushed for the popular pageant to be held in the Philippines, said the Miss Universe Organization will likely “welcome” Duterte’s participation in the event.
Asked if DOT has formally asked Duterte to be a judge, De Castro said the President’s inner circle knows such a request is in the works.
“I think his men are aware that we would like him to be part of, to judge it, or just even to watch it, but he has not yet given us a concrete answer altogether,” said De Castro.
The tourism official said she might personally ask Duterte during a possible meeting in Malacañang this month.
Duterte is no stranger to judging beauty pageants. In his two decades as Davao City mayor, he was a regular judge at the Mutya ng Dabaw pageants. In fact, he met his common-law wife, Honeylet Avanceña, through this pageant. She was a contestant while he was a judge.
‘Gimmick’ with Steve Harvey
Despite Duterte’s unflattering opinion of Miss Universe pageant host Steve Harvey, the American comedian is still expected to host the event next month.
De Castro insisted that Duterte was only joking when he said he didn’t want Harvey as pageant host.
“I told him, ‘It really needs to be Steve Harvey,’ and he said, ‘No, I’m very much welcome to have him here in the Philippines,'” related De Castro.
In fact, a gimmick is being planned for Duterte and Harvey to break the ice.
“Kami ni Secretary Martin Andanar, mayroon kaming gagawing pakulo between the President and Steve Harvey so medyo abangan ‘nyo po ‘yan (Secretary Martin Andanar and I are coming up with a gimmick between the President and Steve Harvey so wait for it),” she teased.
Duterte had also expressed his views on other aspects of the pageant.
Organizers had to move the swimwear events to Cebu from Davao City, the original venue, because of the local government’s prohibition on swimsuit portions in pageants held in the city. Duterte initiated the rule when he was city mayor.
“When we told the President about it he, said, ‘Yes, just do it in Cebu because in Davao, I will not relax the rules,'” said De Castro. – Rappler.com
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