Miss Universe contest starts in scandal-hit Philippines

Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six conestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Flavia Brito of Portugal, Noelia Freire of Spain, Magdalena Cohendent of Uruguay, Ntandoyen Kunene of South Africa, Unoako Anyadike of Nigeria and Andrea Melgarejo of Paraguay.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six contestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Shannon Harris of Barbados, Hildur Maria of Iceland, Htet Htet Htun of Myanmar, Sirey Moran of Honduras, Virginia Argueta of Guatemala, Jaime-Lee Faulkner of Great Britain, Kezia Warouw of Indonesia and Cherell Williamson of Bahamas.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six contestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Sal Garcia of Domincan Republic, Barbara Filipovic of Croatia, Christina Mikkelsen of Denmark, Iris Mittenaere of France, Erika Creque of British Virgin Islands, Rebecca Rath of Belize, Luisa Baptista of Angola and Raissa Santana of Brazil.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants blow kisses to photographers as they pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six conestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Chalita Suansane of Thailand, Dijana Cvijetic of Switzerland, Teodora Dan of Romania, Jihan Dimack of Tanzania, Cheryl Chou of Singapore, Zuzana Kollarova of Slovak Republic, Tansu Cakir of Turkey, Jayathi de Silva of Sri Lanka.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six conestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines.From left, Yam Kaspers Amshel of Israel, Lizell Esterhuizen of Namibia, Raquel Pelissier of Haiti, Johanna Acs of Germany, Mary Were of Kenya, Isabel Dalley of Jamaica and Kushboo Namrawa of Mauritius. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants blow kisses to the media as they pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six conestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Brenda Jimenez of Puerto Rico, Valeria Piazza of Peru, Christina Waage of Norway, Ida Ovmar of Sweden, Isabella Krzan of Poland.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six conestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Yuliana Korolkova of Russia, Lucija Potocnik of Slovenia, Alena Spodynyuk of Ukraine.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six contestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Tania Dawson of New Zealand, Veronica Bodizs of Hungary, Chanelle de Lau of Curacao, Martha Fenech of Malta, Sophia Sergio of Italy, Camila Barraza of Kosovo and Kristal Silva of Mexico.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Miss Universe contestants pose on the red carpet on the eve of their coronation Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Eighty-six conestants are vying for the title to succeed Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines. From left, Brenda Jimenez of Puerto Rico, Valeria Piazza of Peru, Christina Waage of Norway, Ida Ovmar of Sweden, Isabella Krzan of Poland.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — The Miss Universe contest is underway in the Philippines Monday, a country deeply fascinated with beauty contests but also under an international spotlight because of the president's bloody crackdown on illegal drugs and a police scandal.

American comedian and pageant host Steve Harvey opened the show with a pledge to announce the right winner after he wrongly named Miss Colombia as the winner more than a year ago when the contest was held in Las Vegas, causing an uproar.

Eighty-six candidates are vying for the crown, currently held by Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines.

"One thing I learned in life, when you make a mistake, you gotta keep on moving forward man, that's all," Harvey said, adding he had surgery done on his eyes so that "when we get to the end and the card comes up, we'll get it right this year."

A smiling Wurtzbach, who was called to the stage to give her farewell remarks as the outgoing winner, thanked him for making her the most popular Miss Universe. Harvey, laughing, thanked her for making him the most famous Miss Universe emcee ever.

Judges selected a dozen candidates but the 13th was chosen through online public voting. Harvey said 100 million people cast their votes worldwide.

President Rodrigo Duterte was invited but has not shown up after holding a midnight news conference where he expressed outrage over the involvement of anti-drug police in the kidnapping of a South Korean businessman, who was reportedly strangled to death at the main police camp in metropolitan Manila last October then cremated, his ashes allegedly flushed down a toilet bowl.

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