Former President Fidel Ramos on Friday slammed several government officials who he said had turned President Rodrigo Duterte's official visit to Russia into a "junket."
Without naming names, Ramos said some government officials who had no role in the trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg joined the presidential delegation instead of manning their local posts.
"It now turns out that it was a junket... Some people should have stayed behind," Ramos said in a press conference.
According to the Philippine News Agency, at least 16 Cabinet officials joined the President’s official visit to Russia.
Among these officials were members of the president's economic team: Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
Other Cabinet members who flew to Russia were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato De La Peña, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, whose traditional role was to be the executive department's caretaker while the president is on foreign trips, also joined the delegation.
Duterte eventually had to cut short his trip to Russia after bloody clashes between government forces and the Maute terrorist group erupted in Marawi City on Tuesday.
Ramos, a former military general-turned-president, attributed the unexpected terrorist rampage and takeover not to a failure in intelligence, but to a "failure of organization."
"There is a certain failure of organization in the entire government right now... (Some) should have been in their posts because this is not the first time there have been threats," he said.
Aside from Cabinet secretaries, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, some members of the Senate and the House, as well as assistant secretaries and staff members also joined the presidential delegation to Russia.
Duterte's common-law partner Honeylet Avanceña and his children Sebastian and Veronica, also accompanied the chief executive on the trip.