MANILA, Philippines — Less than a week after his six-day working visit to New York, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. flew out of the country again, this time to Singapore to watch the much-anticipated return of the F1 Grand Prix, the Inquirer has learned.
The Office of the Press Secretary, however, said late on Friday that it had no information “yet” on the president’s trip to Singapore, his second visit there since he assumed office on June 30. It did not confirm the trip either on Saturday, while Presidential Security Group commander Col. Ramon Zagala has not responded to a request for comment.
But a Malacañang source said the president flew to the city-state for a two-day visit on Saturday afternoon.
The source told the Inquirer that Marcos would spend the weekend in Singapore and return to Manila on Monday.
The Singapore F1 Grand Prix was canceled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the F1 website, the qualifying session will be on Saturday at 9 p.m. while the grand prix will be on Sunday at 8 p.m.
The Singapore Grand Prix, the 17th race in the 2022 season, will take place over 61 laps of the 5.063-kilometer Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday. The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, the sport’s first-ever night race, was held in 2008.
For general tickets, a single day pass for the Sunday race costs from SG$128, or about P5,300, to SG$988, or about P40,570, while three-day passes cost between SG$208 (about P8,540) and SG$1,288 (about P52,900), depending on the location at the track.
Hospitality packages, which include prime views, exclusive access, food and beverage offerings, among others start from SG$1,766 (about P72,500) to as much as SG$9,898 (P406,440), depending on the type of access and inclusive days.
‘Middle of crisis’
Red Bull racer Max Verstappen, who leads the driver standings, will have his first shot at securing the championship title this weekend. Only five races are left after the race in Singapore.
The Black Eyed Peas of Filipino-American artist Apl.de.ap, Westlife, Green Day, among other popular music icons, will perform in this year’s race concert.
The president’s weekend visit to see the race was strongly criticized by Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (Carmma).
“What’s sad here is that we are in the middle of a crisis. People are suffering. Can you imagine? He will go to Singapore to watch a grand prix?” said playwright, martial law survivor and Carmma spokesperson Bonfacio Ilagan.
He asked whether the people’s taxes were spent to finance this weekend trip by the President.
“We see no necessity for this trip,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes. “The point is he is the president and he is setting a very bad example.”
One of the supporters of the President on Twitter defended his trip.
“If true, PBBM has every right to unwind during the weekend. Plus, Singapore is not that far from PH. If the opposition tries to frame this in a bad light, PBBM’s comm team will neutralize it,” @SOtravia said.
During his earlier trip to Singapore, the president received investment pledges from Singaporean businessmen totaling $6.54 billion for projects, such as electric tricycles, floating solar technology and an in-country data center in the Philippines. These could generate 15,000 new jobs, according to Malacañang.
—WITH REPORTS FROM DEMPSEY REYES, DEXTER CABALZA AND INQUIRER RESEARCH