Duterte restricts foreign trips in executive branch

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2017 07:28 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he is barring officials in the executive branch from taking trips abroad for the meantime and ordered agencies to track down those who had taken unnecessary travels.

The President made the announcement in a speech in Davao City following his decision to fire several appointees over lavish trips. 

Duterte said he does not want officials under the executive branch to take unnecessary travels starting January 1, 2018, sparing only the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“I don’t want to interfere in Congress and Supreme Court. Sa inyo iyan. Dito sa akin, I’ll cut it, except the diplomats. Sabihin ko muna, walang travel, mag-starvation diet muna tayo 'diyan,” he said.

“Every department, ayaw ko na magsabi kung sino, pati 'yung akin, may component talaga ‘yan sa corruption.”

Duterte said he would also order agencies to find out which officials had gone on excessive trips abroad.

In banning junkets, Duterte said he was just “being strict in terms of money” and that he does not want public money to go to waste.

The President has fired several government officials for supposedly taking unnecessary junkets, among them former Dangerous Drugs Board chief Dionisio Santiago and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chief Terry Ridon. 

Also recently, Malacañang ordered Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) President Elba Cruz to vacate her post. DAP employees earlier alleged that Cruz had mismanaged the institution and took monthly trips abroad. 

Duterte reiterated his lack of interest in traveling abroad, saying his old age has made it uncomfortable for him to take long flights.

“Pa-travel mo ako? Susmaryosep. After that, so many accidents sa motor, madali ako mahilo, nag-puke pa ako minsan. Add that to the spinal trouble that I have,” said the 72-year-old President, the oldest to hold the office.

“I hate to travel but I have to represent [the Philippines],” added the President, whose most recent official trip was to Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. 

In the first year of his presidency, Duterte made several trips abroad, attending important regional meetings and making his debut in the international scene.