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Marcos’ trip to watch F1 races in Singapore draws criticism

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A trip by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Singapore over the weekend to watch Formula 1 races has been attacked by critics who have described it as “totally insensitive” while Thousands of Filipinos remain displaced due to a recent typhoon.

Marcos Jr. confirmed his trip to Singapore for the Grand Prix event in a brief statement and photos he posted on Facebook on Monday night after a flurry of criticism online.

“They say playing golf is the best way to do business, but I say it’s Formula 1,” Marcos Jr. said. “What a productive weekend.”

He said without giving further details that he was invited with other dignitaries and met new business friends who were ready to invest in the Philippines, and added that he would disclose more details later.

Over the weekend, reports circulated on social media regarding Marcos Jr.’s unannounced trip to Singapore. Marcos Jr.’s press officer only issued confirmation after a Singaporean official posted photos of Marcos Jr. in the city-state on Facebook.

Singapore’s Minister for Manpower, Tan See Leng, named Marcos Jr. among the foreign dignitaries he met “to affirm our bilateral economic ties and strengthen collaborations in energy cooperation as well as to exchange views on labor policies on the fringes of the race”.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also posted photos on Facebook showing him with others, including Marcos Jr. and his wife, Liza Araneta-Marcos. “Happy to catch up with friends from here and there, watch the race and enjoy good company,” the caption read.

Critics hit out at the secrecy that shrouded the president’s trip and demanded more details from the government about the trip, including whether public funds and resources were used.

“We affirm that the F1 weekend getaway to Singapore was insensitive, unnecessary and irresponsible given the crisis the country finds itself in,” Renato Reyes of the left-wing political alliance Bayan said in a statement. “Only those who are totally insensitive and shameless wouldn’t get that point.”

A Filipino official said Marcos Jr., his wife and two sons left Manila on a military plane on Friday to spend the night in Singapore to watch the Grand Prix races, adding that this was his third trip to Singapore since winning the presidential election in May. The official, who had knowledge of the trip, spoke on condition of anonymity due to a lack of authority to discuss the matter publicly.

Labor movement Kilusang Mayo Uno said the trip was an insult to workers struggling with hyperinflation and low wages and to the victims of a powerful typhoon that left at least 12 people dead and a streak of devastation across the provinces of north a week ago. Thousands of people remained displaced following the attack, the government disaster response agency said.

Marcos Jr., the son of a dictator who was overthrown in a military-backed pro-democracy “people power” uprising in 1986, took office in June after a landslide election victory.

He inherited huge problems, including a pandemic-stricken economy, deeper poverty and unemployment, decades-old insurgencies and a potential food crisis triggered in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .


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