President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday he will reduce his overseas trips this year as his government will collate and review all the agreements with other nations, organizations, and business groups they made since he came to power last year.
“We will cut back our trips for the rest of the year. We need to review everything we started at the ASEAN, at APEC, in China, in the EU, in Brussels, even in Davos. We need to detail everything we talked about. We haven’t done this since we were busy traveling,” he said in Filipino in a one-hour televised interview with a panel of broadcast journalists last night.
On his personal video broadcast over the weekend, the President talked about the benefits the country reaped as a result of the recent Philippine participation in the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, Switzerland.
In his latest YouTube vlog, President Marcos said the government projection of growth was far more than what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had in mind.
“Our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, fiscal discipline, structural reforms, and liberalization of key sectors instituted over the years have enabled us to withstand the negative shocks caused by the pandemic and succeeding economic downturns and map a route towards a strong recovery,” he said.
In reply to a question about the expenses the government incurred during his eight trips over the last seven months – and the huge entourage accompanying him with each trip—the President stressed that the public should view the return on investments for the country, and not just the cost of the trip.
Mr. 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,” he 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… That’s what they complain about on the Philippines,” 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,” Mr. Marcos said.
“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 (We’d easily recover the) cost of the eight trips, finished,” the President 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,” Mr. Marcos said.
Cabinet secretaries and their staff join 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.
On his vlog, Mr. Marcos also said the future of the Asia-Pacific cannot be determined by anyone but outside the region.
The President also pointed out the importance of making food available, affordable, and accessible for all.
The President also discussed his Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028, which he said would guide the country towards economic development.
Mr. Marcos also discussed the effects of climate change, including the heavy flooding suffered by several parts of the country.
He said forging new networks and partnerships will open the Philippines up to “limitless” opportunities in a global economy that is dealing with both conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President said the WEF’s theme “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”, which was similar to his call for unity in the Philippines, underscored the importance of nations making a joint effort to address global problems such as immediate economic, energy and food crises while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world.
Meanwhile, lawmakers commended Speaker Martin Romualdez for participating in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, saying there was nothing wrong with Romualdez joining the President on his trips abroad.
Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said as the leader of the House of Representatives, Romualdez could make commitments on behalf of Congress in terms of needed legislation.
He said the Marcos administration is apparently taking the whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach that other countries have adopted in addressing national issues.
“This tack has proven effective in addressing domestic concerns, as it calls for the collaboration of all sectors. The presence of the speaker in presidential trips is proof of the cooperation and partnership of the executive and legislative branches of government,” Gonzales said.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers congratulated President Marcos and Romualdez for the successful participation in the recently concluded WEF.
Barbers said that the presence of Romualdez is proof of the unity of the government in seeking foreign investments to sustain the country’s economic growth momentum.