MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday defended his recent trip to Russia, which former President Fidel Ramos labeled as a “junket.”
“Noong nasa Moscow ako sa Russia, noong nagbalita na inatake na ang Marawi. I was criticized kasi junket daw sabi ni Presidente Ramos. It was not. We got about P9 billion of ready-made transactions kaagad,” Duterte told police in a speech at Camp Quintin Merecido in Davao City.
He said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon were included in the trip to talk arms trade with Russia.
“Nandoon si Secretary Lorenzana, nandoon si Esperon. Nandoon lahat iyun kasi we were discussing arms and all the mga trade,” he said.
He added that he invited soon-to-retire police and military officials as gratitude for their service.
“Sabi ko you come with me because ‘yan lang din ang paraan na mapakita ko sa inyo na this is also a nation who has the gratitude for you, sumama kayo. Isama niyo ‘yung asawa ninyo, ipasyal ko kayo,” he said.
Duterte said he decided to bring police and military officials because he will pay for the same expenses anyway.
“Alam mo ang bayad ko sa eroplano, ke ako lang mag-isa ang pasahero, punuin ko ng tao, pareho lang. And so I invited ‘yung mag-retire,” he said.
Last May 26, Ramos said several government officials turned the President’s official visit to Russia into a "junket."
"It now turns out that it was a junket... Some people should have stayed behind," Ramos said in a press conference.
Duterte had to cut short his trip to Russia after the Maute group attacked Marawi City on May 23.
The President declared martial law in the entire Mindanao on the same day