Late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was formally invited to Formula 1 races event before.
His former executive assistant Raf Ignacio remembered this in a post amid the reported attendance of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the “Singapore Grand Prix 2022” on October 1.
Photos that showed Marcos and some members of his family, including his son Rep. Sandro Marcos (1st District, Ilocos Norte), at the Formula One racing event circulated last weekend.
Marcos, Sandro and their other relatives were spotted at the exclusive F1 Paddock Club to watch the race.
Malacañang only confirmed Marcos’ visit to Singapore on Monday, October 3.
The statement from Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, however, did not mention details about the car racing event.
Aquino declines invitations
Amid the online buzz the trip had generated, Ignacio recalled on Facebook that Aquino used to receive invites from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Long regularly to watch the prestigious sports competition before.
He said the late chief executive always declines.
“PM Lee regularly invited PNoy to watch the F1 races before, but PNoy always sent his regrets. He felt that such a trip would be purely for recreation, and it was inappropriate to use the influence of his office and public funds for personal matters,” Ignacio said.
“When I saw the room rates on the actual invitation (unfortunately, I don’t have a copy anymore), I got a strong feeling Sir wouldn’t go because everything was so expensive,” he added.
His post was also accompanied by a report about Marcos and Sandro’s time at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ignacio noted that Lee’s invitations came at a time when the Philippine economy was flourishing.
Aquino could have used this to “rationalize” his presence to watch the F1 race should he have gone.
“The invitations came during a time when the Philippine economy was growing rapidly, businesses booming, inflation and forex were stable, consecutive credit rating upgrades, and we were no longer known as the Sick Man but the Rising Tiger of Asia. He could have handily used the economic gains to rationalize the trip,” Ignacio said.
The former presidential close aide further stated that Aquino could have stated that he was formally invited to be there, and he used it as an opportunity to discuss important matters with other business leaders but he did not.
Moreover, Ignacio said that he [Aquino] was also a known car enthusiast, thus watching a car race was enticing to him.
“Even some of his advisers egged him to go. Mind you, PNoy is a known car enthusiast so the invitation was enticing,” Ignacio said.
“Ultimately, he chose not to attend,” he added.
Ignacio said that Aquino might have perceived attending F1 races as too “lavish” for a sitting president to experience.
“I don’t think it was a difficult decision for him. He felt it was vulgar for a sitting Philippine president to indulge himself in a lavish experience when there were many other important matters that needed his attention,” he said.
Ignacio’s post so far garnered 2,100 reactions, 125 comments and 1,100 shares on the platform.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee, meanwhile, posted a photo on Monday that showed his meeting with Marcos and his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos during the F1 weekend.