How much do Aquino’s trips abroad cost?
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III over the weekend embarked on his fifth trip to the United States, after spending eight days in Europe to the tune of P31.9 million.
Aquino’s latest trip will be the longest so far – eight days in Europe and four days in the United States.
Travel expenses of officials have long been a touchy subject in the Philippines where at least a quarter of the population is mired in poverty, according to government statistics.
Aquino’s trip to European countries Spain, Belgium, France and Germany last week, his first since taking office in 2010, cost the taxpayers an average of almost P4 million per day while his current trip to the US cost P14.8 million or P3.7 million per day.
The amounts are higher than the budget spent for visits to South East Asian countries, which ranges from P1 million to P3 million per day. However, it is also relatively small compared to Aquino’s trip to Davos, Switzerland in 2013 (P12.25 million per day) and his trip to the United Kingdom and the United States in 2012 (P12.44 million per day).
The UK and US trip, which lasted seven days from June 4 to 10, 2012, drew flak because of the P87.1 million worth of expenses, the biggest allotment for a trip abroad under the current administration, for Aquino and his delegation’s needs.
The amount allotted for each trip often covers “transportation, accommodation, equipment, and other requirements” of Aquino and his delegation, which numbers around 40 to 80 people. However, some of the amounts listed below do not include airfare. Other trips are also cheaper because some of the expenses were paid for by the host country.
Trips to Brunei, for example, were consistently cheaper. In 2012, the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah shouldered the expenses of Aquino and his delegation so they may attend the wedding of his daughter.
In 2012, Brunei’s hospitality to Aquino made headlines after it lent 43 cars – an assortment of Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce and Volvo — to the Philippine delegation.
Palace officials have argued that the cost of the trip is easily earned through foreign direct investments (FDI), though critics point out that the Philippines has the lowest FDI among the Asean founding member states.
Nevertheless, Aquino said he expects the country to receive additional FDI worth $2.38 billion as a product of his meetings with business and government officials in Europe.
The President’s trips revolve around meeting heads of states, businessmen and attending international summits, including that of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
His trip to Switzerland in 2013, which cost P49 million, was for the World Economic Forum. The annual meeting in Davos has long been notorious for its hefty price tag.
While Aquino earlier pointed out that his travel expenses are cheaper than that of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because of fewer trips and expenses, information from the Commission on Audit showed that Arroyo’s expenses during the first half of her term matched that of Aquino.
INQUIRER.net has yet to receive the data requested from the COA in order to compare the expenses of past administrations. Comparison of travel expenses of each President will be the subject of another article.
Below are some of the information gathered by INQUIRER.net on Aquino’s trips abroad:
United States: P14.8 million
Date: Sept. 20 to 24 (4 days)
To give speech at the UN Climate Change Summit
Spain, Belgium, France and Germany: P31.9 million
Date: Sept. 13 to 20 (8 days)
Met with heads of state, European Union, over trade and other issues
Japan: P8.8 million (41 delegates)
Date: June 24 (1 day)
State visit, met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Myanmar: P6.8 million (56 delegates)
Date: May 10 to 11 (2 days)
Attended the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit
Malaysia: P9 million (57 delegates)
Date: February 27 to March 1 (3 days)
State visit, met with Prime Minister Najib Razak, tackled Bangsamoro agreement
Japan: P15 million (57 delegates)
Date: December 12 to 14 (3 days)
Attended the 40th Asean-Japan Commemorative Summit
South Korea: P12 million (60 delegates)
Date: October 17 to 18 (2 days)
State visit, met with President Park Geun-hye
Indonesia and Brunei: P14.3 million (84 delegates)
Date: Oct. 6 to 8 and Oct. 8 to 10 (6 days)
Attended the 21st Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the 23rd ASEAN Summit
Myanmar: P6 million (57 delegates)
Date: June 7 to 8 (2 days)
Attended the World Economic Forum on East Asia
Brunei: P7 million (51 delegates)
Date: April 24 to 25 (2 days)
Attended the 22nd Asean Summit
Switzerland: P49 million (63 delegates)
Date: Jan. 24 to 27 (4 days)
Attended the 2013 World Economic Forum
Cambodia: P11 million (53 delegates)
Date: November 18 to 20 (3 days)
Attended the 21st Asean Summit
READ: Aquino looks well in 21st Asean Summit opening in Cambodia
Laos: P8.9 million (60 delegates)
Date: Nov. 5 to 6 (2 days)
Attended the 10th Asean-Europe Meeting (Asem)
New Zealand and Australia: P44 million (96 delegates)
Date: Oct. 22 to 23, Oct. 24 to 26 (5 days)
State visits to discuss trade, and defense relations
Brunei: Did not spend (hosted by Sultan)
Date: Sept. 23 (1 day)
Attended the wedding of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s daughter
Russia: P15.3 million (66-member delegation)
Date: September 7 to 9 (8 days)
Attended the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum
United Kingdom and United States: P87.1 million
Date: June 4 to 6, June 6 to 10 (7 days)
Met with Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince Andrew, met with President Barack Obama
Cambodia: P3.5 million (63-member delegation)
Date: April 2 to 4 (3 days)
Attended the Asean Summit and 45th Anniversary of Asean
Indonesia: P6.7 million (57-member delegation)
Date: Nov. 17 to 19
Attended the 19th Asean Summit
Hawaii (US): P24.5 million
Date: Nov. 11 to 12 (2 days)
Attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leader’s summit
Japan: P20 million (63-member delegation)
Date: Sept. 25 to 28 (4 days)
Working visit for trade and overseas development assistance
United States: P24.8 million (no mention of delegation)
Date: Sept. 18 to 23 (6 days)
Gave keynote speech at the Open Government Partnership, met with Obama, etc.
READ: Aquino stars in New York
China: P25 million (270-member delegation –biggest business delegation)
Date: August 30 to September 3 (5 days)
Met with President Hu Jintao, discussed trade and investment
Japan: (left unannounced)
Date: August 4 to 5 (2 days)
Met with MILF Chair Murad Ebrahim
Brunei: P2 million (55-member delegation)
Date: June 1 to 2 (2 days)
Invited by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Thailand: P4.5 million (52-member delegation)
Date: May 26 to 27 (2 days)
Invited by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, pitched PPP program
Indonesia: P4.2 million (54-member delegation) – does not include airfare
Date: May 7 to 8 (2 days)
Attended annual gathering of the Asean
Indonesia and Singapore: P12.27 million – excluding airfare (53-member delegation)
Date: March 7 to 9, March 9 to 11 (5 days)
Met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono, Singaporean President S.R. Nathan and Prime Minsiter Lee Hsien
Japan:P16.34 million (51-member delegation)
Date: Nov. 12 to 14 (3 days)
Attended the 18th Apec Summit
Vietnam: P11.3 million (53-member delegation)
Date: 26 to 30 (5 days)
Attended the 17th Asean Summit, state visit
United States: P25 million (56-member delegation)
Date: Sept. 20 to 26 (7 days)
Attended the 65th United Nations General Assembly, met with Obama
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