Contrary to his initial reaction, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is "very much" open to having Steve Harvey as host of the Miss Universe pageant that the Philippines will host next month, a Department of Tourism official said on Friday.
"I think he's just kidding," DOT Undersecretary Katherine de Castro said in a press briefing in Malacanang when asked if Pres. Duterte is still against Harvey as host of the prestigious beauty pageant.
"Because his reaction was 'What? Steve Harvey is the one hosting it? He's a disaster.' But he laughed after. So I said, 'Sir, we really need Steve Harvey.' He said, 'No, I'm very much welcome to have him here in the Philippines," De Castro explained.
De Castro said the DOT has in fact coordinating with Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar for a possible special participation of President Duterte during the Miss Universe pageant coronation night on Jan. 30.
"We are preparing a 'pakulo' (gimmick) between the President and Steve Harvey. So you watch out for that. And the Miss Universe Organization was very much open to that, whatever it is that we are planning to do with the President and Steve Harvey," she said.
Harvey, who is under a five-year contract as host of Miss Universe Pageant, committed a major blunder at the Miss Universe 2015 coronation night when he mistakenly announced Miss Colombia as the winner instead of Pia Wurtzbach of the Philippines.
De Castro announced that all the Miss Universe candidates will pay a courtesy call to President Duterte in Malacanang on January 23.
She said the DOT has reserved seats for President Duterte during the pageant coronation night at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
"I think the Miss Universe Organization is very much welcome to have him in the show," De Castro said.
When asked if the President can be chosen as one of the judges, De Castro replied: "Apparently, it's a rule for Miss U Organization not to have a judge from the host country but I think if it's the President, that's gonna be another, you know, I think they will make an exception to the rule."
De Castro said her team will have a courtesy call on Monday with the President to inform him about the Miss Universe organizers' proposal.
"I think his men are aware that we would like him to be part of you know, to judge it or just even to watch it. But he has not yet given us a concrete answer altogether. We have reserved a VIP section for the President," she said.
De Castro was accompanied by two Miss Universe candidates Deshauna Barber of USA and Tania Pauline Dawson of New Zealand.
Barber said she is excited to explore the Philippines' tourist spots, particularly Palawan and Cebu.
"We are gonna swim with whale sharks. I'm really excited so I'm really looking forward to all the experiences that we're gonna have while we're here," Barber said.
Dawson, on the other hand, is not new in the Philippines being a daughter of a Filipina mother from Baguio City.
She is looking forward to meeting Wurtzbach who, according to the DOT, will be busy visiting all the areas that will be visited by the candidates throughout the country.
Source: Philippines News Agency