Filipino social media slammed President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. after reports surfaced over the weekend that the head of state flew to Singapore to watch the much-awaited F1 Grand Prix in the Little Red Dot.
Netizens criticized Marcos Jr’s return to Singapore as ill-timed considering it comes amid continued economic difficulties and the aftermath of Typhoon “Karding” (known internationally as “Noru”) that caused the displacement of thousands and led to agricultural damage estimated to be PHP2.02 billion (US$34.2 million). Marcos Jr himself sits as agriculture secretary in addition to being president.
Over the weekend, Malacañang remained mum on the president’s trip, with the Office of the Press Secretary saying it had “no information yet” on whether Marcos would be attending the car racing event on Friday. On Sunday, the Palace did not repond to requests from the press for comments after photos of Marcos Jr and his family members, including as his son, Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos, and his cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, at the exclusive F1 Paddock Club made the rounds.
Eventually, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles reposted a screenshot of a post by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, who thanked heads of state such as Marcos for being present at the event, and said the president’s visit to Singapore was “productive.”
“President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr’s visit to Singapore was productive. He strengthened initial talks from his previous state visit to the country, and continued inviting investments in the Philippines,” her post read.
This did little to quell Filipinos on social media, who believed the president should not be watching car races at a time when many Filipinos were experiencing difficulties.
Journalist Barnaby Lo posted photos of affected Filipino villagers from Quezon province who said they had yet to receive aid a week after the typhoon ravaged their homes.
“The whole budget of the Marcos family for the F1 Grand Prix in Singapore could have been more than enough to help a city devastated by #KardingPH. The fact that they planned this ahead and did not cancel despite a recent national calamity means that THEY DO NOT CARE,” another user wrote.
“[I don’t get] why people are surprised by Marcos choosing [to watch] the Grand Prix in Singapore [over] helping those affected by the recent typhoon,” one wrote. “Remember that their intention to run is to clean their names. The Philippines is not a country but a playground for corrupt politicians.”
“Marcos is flying this weekend to Singapore to watch the F1 Grand Prix from the invitation of Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong. This is SG’s coming-out-of-covid grand party. Yet the Philippines has no health secretary yet,” another pointed out.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes also called the president’s Singapore getaway “insensitive, unnecessary, and irresponsible,” and questioned how much Filipino taxpayers were paying for this trip.
“We are in the middle of an economic crisis where inflation will again reach record highs, public debt has breached PHP13 trillion, and millions of Filipinos are reeling from the effects of typhoon Karding. So why does the President think it’s okay to take a private jet to Singapore to watch the return of the F1 Grand Prix? How much are the Filipino taxpayers paying for this trip?”
Reyes also added that a jet-setting lifestyle was “incompatible with the Office of the President.”