MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said he will reduce his overseas trips in 2023, as his administration needs to “consolidate” the investment pledges he obtained from his first 8 trips as chief executive.
“Iyong mga biyahe medyo babawasan na namin for the rest of the year,” Marcos Jr. told reporters.
“Kailangan namin balikan lahat itong mga nasimulan sa ASEAN, sa APEC, sa China, sa EU, sa Bruseelss, pati sa Davos. Kailangan namin idetalye yung aming napag-usapan,” he said.
“Hindi pa namin nagagawa dahil busy kami biyahe kami ng biyahe,” he said.
Marcos was reacting to a question on how his administration could guarantee that investment pledges would be converted into actual investments for the Philippines.
“Ngayon kailangan na natin i-consolidate. Kailangan na natin i-follow up. Kung pababayaan natin yan, pumirma ng katakot-takot na MOU pero walang nangyari,” he said.
Marcos said so far, the only confirmed presidential trip this year would be his attendance to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in the United States in November.
“Dapat ang Philippine president, kailangan pumunta sa lahat ng APEC. Marami talagang mag-uusapan,” Marcos said.
“Minsan kahit 5 minutes lang pero mula doon, puwede mo nang tawagan. Puwede mo pang i-follow up,” he said.
The Palace is also preparing for the President’s state visit to Japan next month, an invitation which was extended to Marcos last year.
Earlier this month, Marcos drew flak for embarking on at least 8 official trips as Philippine president with a sizable delegation as critics questioned how much in public funds are spent for these travels.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the trips seemed a little excessive.
"There are always possible benefits. Hindi ko naman tatawaran ‘yun sa kanino mang Presidente. Pero numerically, kasi medyo parang sobra," she told ANC's "Headstart".
"In 7 months, 8 trips samantalang nasusunog tayo sa mga domestic issues, lalo na domestic economic issues," she added.
Marcos responded to these criticisms by saying that the public should look into the return on investments, and not just the cost of the trip.
“I don't know the exact figures of the cost and everything, but for example we came back from China with pledges of P22 billion. Let’s say we get actual out of that P1 billion. Bawing bawi lahat ng cost of the 8 trips, finished,” he said.
“The measure of success will be cost-benefit. How much effort did you put into it? It’s not just the money, it’s the time, the effort that goes into it is really,” he said.
Cabinet secretaries and their staff are included in the trips to ensure that the Philippine delegation is “really prepared” for whatever circumstance that may arise during the event and on its sidelines, the President said.
Marcos said Malacañang would release a breakdown of expenses for his foreign trips once the Palace is done with the accounting.
“There will be accountability and transparency in everything we do. That’s the axiomatic, who can argue with that,” Marcos said.
“This (Accountability) has not been an issue that private businesses bring up. They bring up ease of doing business, they bring up the cost of energy, legislative guarantees… Yan ang nirereklamo nila sa Pilipinas,” he said.
“Critics will have their say but those who are actually contemplating putting good money to the Philippines, transparency and accountability is not an issue.”