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MANILA, Philippines – It took days of refusing to confirm or deny if the President was flying to Singapore to watch the Grand Prix, but in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, October 3, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles confirmed what several media outfits and the internet already knew: that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was in the city-state to watch Formula 1 racing.
“Naging produktibo ang pagdalaw sa Singapore ni Pangulong Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr.,” said Angeles in a Facebook post made early morning Monday. (President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr.’s visit to Singapore was productive.)
The post came days after Palace media, through official channels, asked for confirmation on reports that Marcos would be flying to Singapore to watch the Grand Prix, a motor racing event that’s part of the 2022 F1 season. The 2022 edition was the first one held since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Angeles attached to her post a screenshot of a post made by Singapore’s Minister of Manpower, Tan See Leng.
The Press Chief did not say what sort of trip the weekend Singapore sojourn was — whether it was a working or official visit – but she said Marcos “strengthened earlier talks from his last state visit.”
Marcos flew to Singapore in early September for his second state visit as president. But unlike that visit, the late-September trip was not made public, through Palace media, Angeles’ social media pages, or Marcos’ official social media accounts.
House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe said he was not privy to exact details of the trip, when asked why the Marcos administration seemingly kept it secret, but noted the Singaporean government invited Southeast Asian leaders to the event.
“I think it so happened it was an event for them to get-together and socialize. Let’s face it. Right now, if you look at the political landscape of Southeast Asia, President [Marcos] stands as the South leader for Southeast Asia, so you cannot avoid inviting him to an event where all other leaders of Southeast Asia were invited,” he told reporters on Monday.
At around 8:30 pm, Monday, Marcos talked about his Singapore sojourn in his Instagram account. In the IG post, the President likened his watching F1 night races in the city-state to businessmen talking about business possibilities while playing a round of golf.
Marcos posted of Instagram: “They say that playing golf is the best way to drum up business, but I say it’s Formula 1. What a productive weekend!
“It was fulfilling to have been invited alongside several dignitaries and to have met new business friends who showed that they are ready and willing to invest in the Philippines. Will be sharing more details on this at a later time.”
According to Minister Tan, aside from Marcos, he met Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., head of state to a nation of over 18,000 people. Palau, incidentally, celebrates its Independence Day on October 1 — the second day of the Grand Prix.
The rest of the foreign officials Tan met with were fellow ministers from Cambodia and an advisor to Saudi Arabia.
Tan said he met the two presidents, two ministers and one advisor to “affirm [Singapore’s] bilateral economic relationships and strengthen collaborations in energy cooperation as well as exchange views on manpower policies on the sidelines of the race.”
The Singapore weekend travel would be Marcos’ fourth known foreign trip since taking his oath on June 30. His first two were state visits to Indonesia and Singapore. He recently held a six-day working visit to the US for the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
It’s also not the first time for Marcos to be criticized for frivolity as chief executive. In his first few days of office, the new president was criticized for holding at least two parties in Malacañang, triggering memories of excess and lavish parties during the first Marcos presidency.
The President is the son and namesake of the dictator Marcos Sr, who was ousted from power in 1986.
Singapore PM’s photo collage
On his own Facebook page, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted a photo collage which included a snapshot of himself, Marcos, and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos exchanging pleasantries on the sidelines of the Grand Prix.
He wrote as his caption to the collage, “Happy to link up again with friends from both here and abroad. They were excited to be here, to watch the race and enjoy the good company.” The series of photographs also included pictures of himself with Grand Prix attendees who were not heads of state.
Marcos and Lee had met barely a month back, during the former’s state visit. Marcos, wife Liza, and son Representative Marcos also had breakfast with Prime Minister Lee and Singapore First Lady Ho Ching during the same state visit.
– with reports from Dwight de Leon/Rappler.com