Malacañang, denied that government paid celebrities who performed in some engagements during President Rodrigo Duterte’s second trip to Russia this week.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the celebrities paid for their own airfare and accommodations being “genuine fans” of the President.
“As far as I know these artistas (artists) came over Moscow on their own. The government did not spend for their fare and hotel accommodations,” Panelo said in a statement.
He said the celebrities were there to perform for the Filipino community before the President’s arrival.
“As far as I know, when they entertain the Filipino community while waiting for the arrival of the President, they are not paid,” he added.
Panelo said these celebrities have been doing the same since Duterte’s presidential campaign in 2016.
“They have been doing that during the presidential campaign. They just happen to be genuine and rabid fans of the PRRD,” Panelo said.
Among the celebrities spotted in Russia were Cesar Montano, Philip Salvador, and comedian Moymoy Palaboy.
Panelo, meanwhile, defended the loose necktie of the President during his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in the latter’s office on Wednesday.
Czech journalist Povel Vondro tweeted that Duterte “showed up a bit unkempt” for the meeting and questioned whether Filipinos knew how to observe state visit protocol.
Official photos from Malacañang showed that Duterte had a loose tie while Medvedev tie was firmly in place.
The Palace official said the President did not dress that way to be disrespectful but because he felt suffocated by his collar.
“PRRD does not look unkempt. What those kibitzers refer to is the way he wore his tie. He loosened it up. He feels suffocated and very uncomfortable if the tie is tightly in place in the collar,” Panelo said.
“His loosened tie was not intended to disrespect the Russian Prime Minister or the Russians. PRRD dresses up for comfort, he is not particular on unsettling other people. He is upfront on everything he does,” he added.
Panelo added that people who have met the President in person said that he smelled pleasant.
“The President is very hygienic. His body emits a refreshing scent as observed by people who meet up close to him,” he added. (PNA)