THE Philippine administration under President Rodrigo Duterte has issued strict orders to ensure the Miss Universe 2017 pageant to be held in the capital this month does not cause any disruption or weigh on public expenses.
The government has already issued several decrees – that no road should be closed throughout the international event and that street dwellers should not be hidden to portray a false image of the country.
On Wednesday, the presidential palace issued its third order via a circular telling all government departments and agencies, local governments, government-controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges to extend “full support” to the event but not to spend for it.
“The DOT (Department of Tourism) may call upon any such department…. for assistance as the circumstances and exigencies may require.
“Officials concerned shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to ensure that there will be no disruption of work and services in their respective offices by reason thereof,” the circular says.
“Except for such reasonable resources required in providing support for the hosting of the Pageant, no public funds shall be expended for the hosting of the 2016 Miss Universe Pageant,” it adds.
The rules are in line with Duterte’s open disdain for extravagant displays of pomp and pageantry during public events. The president himself is famous for his frugal ways and has, since coming to power, made sure to scale back on budgets for red carpet events and even urged officials to dress simply.
In 2015 when he announced his presidential bid, Duterte publicly cursed Pope Francis for causing traffic jams during his papal visit in January that year.
According to PhilStar, Duterte recounted in a forum how he had been stuck in traffic along Roxas Boulevard as the roads were closed to ensure smooth flow for the pope’s delegation.
He said then: “Pope, you son of a b****, go home.”
Reports also say that Duterte had initially refused to allow Manila to host to the Miss Universe pageant, fearing it would weigh on public expenses. He reportedly told DOT secretary Wanda Teo that he would rather give the money to the poor than spend it on hosting the event.
But Teo said she convinced the president to agree after promising that the government would not have to fork out any money for the event.
“We are not spending any money. That was my promise,” she said in a recent interview with CNN Philippines, as quoted by PhilStar.
On the government’s refusal to hide the homeless during the pageant, Teo explained that, “we would like to show them this is the Philippines”.
In 2015, the Philippine Social Welfare and Development Department earned flak for hiding about 500 street children in conjunction with the papal visit.
The children, along with their families, were allegedly sent to a resort in Nasugbu during the visit, although the department said later that it was for a “family campaign workshop” for the poor.
Pre-pageant activities for 65th Miss Universe 2017 will kick off this Jan 15. Candidates will visit various parts of the country until the coronation event, which will be held on Jan 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Philippines was the first Asian country to host the event in 1974 and last held the event in 1994.