Marcos seeks more travel funds; Palace cites gains | Inquirer News

Marcos seeks more travel funds; Palace cites gains

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:30 AM August 04, 2023

FIFTH STATE VISIT President Marcos leads first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos down the stairs of the presidential plane on arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 25. It was the fifth of his state visits since he took office on June 30 last year. —MALACAÑANG PHOTO

FIFTH STATE VISIT President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. leads first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos down the stairs of the presidential plane on arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 25. It was the fifth of his state visits since he took office on June 30 last year. —MALACAÑANG PHOTO

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is asking for P1.408 billion to fund his local and foreign trips next year, a 58-percent jump from his 2023 travel allocation that Malacañang justified with the amount of investment pledges that followed from abroad and the increase in the number of invitations he has received from governments and foreign groups.

The proposed travel budget, which amounted to P893.57 million this year, will account for 13.20 percent of the P10.6 billion total 2024 budget for the Office for the President that it will present to Congress, officials said on Thursday.


Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria Garafil said Marcos’ trips abroad “were great opportunities” to attract more investments to finance the country’s post pandemic economic recovery.


“At the same time, the administration also hopes to elevate the country’s position in the international community through stronger bilateral ties and improved relations with multilateral or international organizations,” she told the Inquirer.

Garafil said that the smaller budget for the President’s trips in 2023 was crafted in 2022 when movements were still largely restricted by the pandemic.

DBM chief: ‘It’s justified’

In his last year in office, the President’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, asked for P536.48 million to cover presidential travels.

Since the lifting of the public emergency by the World Health Organization, the invitations received by Marcos from foreign governments and international groups “have increased significantly,” Garafil said without elaborating.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman told Malacañang reporters that the P1.408-billion budget would be worth the investments that were expected to follow the President home from his trips.

“I think travel expenses, as long as they’re beneficial and advantageous to the country, I think those are okay. It’s justified,” Pangandaman said.


14 since June 2022

Marcos has made 14 foreign trips since he took office on June 30, 2022, including one to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix race in Singapore in October 2022.

The President has made five state visits—Indonesia (Sept. 4 to 6, 2022), Singapore (Sept. 6 to 7, 2022), China (Jan. 3 to 5, 2023), Japan (Feb. 8 to 12, 2023), and Malaysia (July 25 to 27, 2023).

He also went on an official visit to the United States (April 30 to May 4, 2023).

He attended six summits or gatherings of world leaders including his trip to New York to participate in the 77th United Nations General Assembly (Sept. 18 to 23, 2022), the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summits in Cambodia (Nov. 10 to 13, 2022), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ meeting in Thailand (Nov. 16 to 19, 2022), the Asean-European Union Commemorative Summit in Belgium (Dec. 11 to 14, 2022), and the World Economic Forum in Switzerland (Jan. 15 to 21, 2023).

He also was a guest at the coronation of King Charles III on May 6, 2023.

Pledges ‘materialized’

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual told reporters before the President’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month that a total of $88 million or around P4.8 billion in foreign investments had so far “materialized” from the many pledges made by governments and businessmen in those trips.

The $88 million are for only six projects, which have started, he said. He withheld details of the projects as they were “confidential.”

According to Pascual, there is another set of investments worth $70 billion already “in the pipeline.”

He acknowledged that pledges may not all “materialize,” but added that the effort to get foreigners to pour their money into the country would continue.

“Just like in any business, the selling job does not stop,” he added.

In his second Sona on July 24, Marcos said his trips abroad have generated P3.9 trillion in investment pledges that could potentially generate 175,000 jobs.


According to the Presidential Communications Office, the President’s trips from the beginning of his term up to February this year reaped the following amounts of promised investments: Indonesia – $R8.48 billion (P468.96 billion); Singapore – $6.54 billion (P361.67 billion); United States – $3.847 billion (P212.74 billion); Thailand – $4.62 billion (P255.53 billion); Belgium – $2.20 billion (P121.68 billion); China – $24.239 billion (P1.34 trillion); and Japan – $13 billion (P719 billion).

“We have embarked on foreign trips to promote the interests of the country, for peace-building and for mutually beneficial purposes,” Marcos said in his Sona speech last month.

In January, he told reporters that he would make fewer foreign trips this year to assess the promised investment he received from his previous travels.

He defended his frequent foreign trips by pointing to the “ROI,” or return on investment.

He said that “we need to introduce ourselves” to the international community to attract business.

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Marcos had confirmed that he would return to Indonesia for the Asean Summit and to the United States again for the Apec Summit in San Francisco in November.



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TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, budget, Travel

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