Qatar emir foots hotel bills of PH media
DOHA—This was one of those times when journalists can appreciate that the Emir’s word is law.
When this Inquirer reporter tried to pay for his five-day stay to cover President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit here, the hotel staff refused to accept his money and said they would be in big trouble if they did.
“It’s the Emir who can decide if you pay or not,” the staff said with a grin.
The journalists’ hotel accommodations and that of President Duterte’s support staff had been paid by Qatar’s highest official, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Al Thani, who was set to meet Mr. Duterte on Easter Sunday.
The Emir’s staff booked journalists and President Duterte’s support staff — at least 39 of them — at the five-star Hilton Hotel Doha, where they each had a room that costs at least $300 a night.
Mr. Duterte and his party, which consisted of at least 48 people including staffers, Cabinet members and members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), were booked at the more upscale Four Seasons Hotel, with the Emir settling their bills as well.
Ron Gagalac, a reporter of network giant ABS-CBN, was the first to discover that the hotel where the journalists were staying wouldn’t accept any payment, with the staff saying that everything had been taken care of.
A staff of Malacañang’s Media Affairs and Relations Office said that he, too, was surprised by the arrangement but knew about it much earlier, when he and other members of an advance party arrived ahead of the journalists and Mr. Duterte’s main delegation.
“They did it on their own,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, referring to the Emir’s staff.
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