MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affiairs (DFA) will cancel trips overseas this year to save on funds to support the country's COVID-19 vaccination program, its chief said Thursday.
"Thanks Harry but no need. I am cutting off foreign travels. There’s tons of money there. No more conference trips. There’s Zoom," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. wrote on Twitter.
"Will get [Budget Secretary Wendel] Avisado to help me realign. I stopped [building] renovation and capital expenses. Government needs every peso for vaccination."
The top diplomat took to the microblogging platform in response to the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman that Locsin could find funds for the agency.
"We trust that Secretary Locsin can find the funds and I will bring this matter up also to Secretary Avisado," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
Locsin had on Wednesday bared that the agency owed government printing agency APO Production Unit P388 million for the printing of passports.
"Our entire passport revolving fund is gone; and we are in arrears to APO P388M for printing passport booklets," he had said.
The DFA chief said the fund was "eaten up by travel allowances, insurance and miscellany."
The passport revolving fund comes from fees collected for the processing and issuance of passports requiring special consideration.
It can be utilized by the agency for the improvement of its passporting and consular services and other services, except travel and transportation allowances and expenses.
- Report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News