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Government’s ‘truth caravan’ to Europe not a ‘junket,’ says military official

/ 04:23 PM March 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Calling the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)-led caravan to Europe a “junket” is wrong and unfair, a ranking military official who was part of the delegation said Wednesday.

The PCOO claimed that its “Truth Caravan” to Bosnia, Switzerland, and Belgium last Feb. 17-20 was meant to clarify issues hounding the Duterte administrations such as the “involuntary disappearances” and the anti-communist terrorist groups.

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However, the mission was heavily criticized because of reports that the “press freedom caravan” was used by the government to inform the European Press about the “real nature” of the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

READ: Poe: No need for PCOO’s press freedom caravan in Europe

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READ: Press freedom caravan not solely to explain Ressa arrest, says Andanar

“Hindi fair, mali ‘yung ano na ‘yun…’junket’? Sabi nga namin four times, five times nang iniimbita ang AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), ang Philippine government na sagutin ang mga katangunan na ng UN (United Nations), ngayong sinasagot natin magiging issue pa pala ‘yun,” AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

(It’s not fair, it’s wrong to call it a junket. We’ve said four or five times that the Philippine government invited the AP to answer the questions of the United Nations. We didn’t know that it will become an issue.)

PCOO chief Martin Andanar earlier stressed that no public funds were wasted in the trip.

READ: Andanar: No public funds wasted in European press freedom caravan 

But when asked how much was spent during the European trip, Parlade, and other members of the delegation — Undersecretary and Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Severo Catura, and PCOO Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco — deferred to answer.

“Let us just look at it this way. Gumastos ka ng P1 million, o P2 million but in the process you are able to prevent the funding worth P2 billion or P1 billion funding from organizations na napunta doon sa radicalization ng mga bata. Sana ‘yun nalang ang isipin ng mga bumabatikos,” Parlade said.

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(Let us just look at it this way. You spend P1 million or P2 million, but in the process you are able to prevent P1 million or P2 million worth of funding for organizations working on the radicalization of the youth. I hope the critics would think about that.)

The military official was referring to the alleged funding given by the European nations to local organizations with supposed links to communists rebels.

President Duterte earlier said he does not see anything wrong with the trip as long as public funds were “properly accounted for.” /ee

READ: Duterte OK with PCOO’s press freedom caravan in Europe

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TAGS: Europe, Information Caravan, PCOO, Philippine news update, press freedom caravan
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