After his much-criticized attendance with a plane load of Cabinet men, family members and tycoons (some who brought their families as they paid for their trip and accommodations), President Marcos vowed to cut down his trips abroad for the rest of the year. That’s his promise, let’s see him fulfill it after all the year has just started.
This after going on eight official foreign trips in seven months, the last of which was in Davos Switzerland for the meeting of the world’s elite countries and billionaires.
In an exclusive panel interview with television networks last Monday, Marcos said his only “confirmed” trip this year will be the next Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November.
Since assuming the presidency last July, Marcos had traveled to Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, United States, Belgium and Switzerland, to attend the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF).
Marcos said during these trips he was able to secure investment pledges (take note pledges, nothing actual) and agreements with other countries.
“That is why we have to consolidate, follow up on those [parties] we talked to. We have seen many MOUs (memorandum of understanding), which we signed but ended up with nothing. The MOU is the just the first step before it can lead into an actual project.” Good thing he realized that soon enough.
Marcos said his trips helped him get acquainted with other state leaders (and vice versa) and boost investment confidence in the country.
He said it may take some time (maybe even after his term) before concrete gains, particularly those involving investments, are realized.
The President pointed out the even if just a few of the deals are implemented, it will more than compensate for the cost of the trips.
Marcos was unable to disclose the amount spent for his overseas trips but assured the public his administration will be “accountable and transparent” with expenses. (Take note each of those travels are on chartered PAL flights) and expectedly billeting is in five-star suites.
As for the members of the Philippine delegates at the WEF, he noted most of them are members of the private sector and security, while the rest are Cabinet members and their staff.
“The way I see it, you have to look at it as ROI. Do we bring something back or do we not? For example, we came back from China with pledges of $22 billion. Let’s say we get (an) actual $1 billion, bawing-bawi lahat ng eight trips [we recoup the expenses from the eight trips]. That’s the idea. (But look at Duterte’s trip to China with unbelievable pledges, nothing came in. Will he be any different when we are dealing with the same people in China)?
Marcos also pointed out that he did not only get investment pledges in China, but also in the other seven countries he has visited since he assumed office in June 2022 — Indonesia, Singapore, the United States, Cambodia, Thailand, Belgium, and Switzerland. AGAIN, LET’S SEE.
The chief executive further defended his delegation during his overseas trips, saying that most of them, particularly the members of the private sector, travel “on their own.” (We know that. But the bigger delegation comes from government—the Palace, his family and friends and the press corps and press office, including RTVM, Protocol and PMS).
Progressive lawmakers earlier said they are planning to call for an inquiry into Marcos’ Davos trip to find out who paid for the delegation’s expenses. This comes in the wake of a Vera Files report that claimed at least 70 people accompanied the president to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
According to Marcos, his attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in the United States this November is the only confirmed presidential trip so far.
The president is tentatively scheduled to visit Japan in February, following the invitation of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in September last year.
His decision to cut back on foreign trips—aside from being criticized at home for being expensive for taxpayers just when the country is reeling from growing poverty, unchecked inflation and deteriorating peso value and high cost of living-- is to track and consolidate all the investment pledges the country was able to secure in his past foreign trips to attend various summits with leaders from ASEAN, Asia Pacific, European Union, and World Economic Forum.
We need to do it now. We were not able to do it because we are busy, we keep on traveling but at least we were able to bring home something. Now, we need to consolidate it and follow up with those who we talked to,” Marcos said.
“I am the new kid on the block. Nobody knows who I am. We need to introduce ourselves,” he said, adding that for the country to gain new investments, he must present himself and the country to other world leaders.
On his repeat attendance in November to APEC, he said, the Philippine President must attend all APEC forums. It is really important. Many are being discussed there. Sometimes in a matter of five minutes, you are able to get their number so you can call them and make follow ups.”