March 2, 2024

According to an official press release made by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has had 16 international trips so far in his 17-month presidency. For one who took office on June 30, 2022, 16 international trips is quite a lot. He is averaging on trip every month.
In the same press release, the DFA categorized the foreign trips of the President as either an official visit, a state visit, or a working visit without really making any effort to make an explanation what distinguishes the three. What is known, however, is that the President’s official visits, state visits or working visits are accompanied with a long list of entourage consisting of politicians, economists, tag-alongs, joy-riders, and junket travelers. It is also well known that the costs and expenses of these travels were footed by taxpayer’s money, meaning, what was used is public funds.
During these trips, the spokesperson of the President assuaged the people’s suspicion regarding the irregularity of these trips by assuring them that the foreign trips are necessary to promote and cultivate the country’s goodwill. Accordingly, it is during these trips that the President was able to solicit foreign cooperation by means of investment and foreign aids.
Yet, the investments that were solicited by the President are still in its initial stage. These investments are merely in the form of pledges or promises that do not immediately translate into actual economic benefits. Anent foreign aids, these are loans which the country will pay, just the same, with or without the President traveling to solicit it.
Maybe, if only to appease the people that the President is using taxpayer’s money efficiently in his foreign trips, an itemized list of where the money went and who were with the President, ought to be published. It will further appease the people if there is a report on which among the pledges were actually realized or put into reality. As it stands, they tell the people about these pledges and foreign aids as if both have already been translated in terms of benefits. Pledges are mere promises and until realized, it is nothing but thin air where the promise may not be commensurate with the trip that was taken. Besides, can’t foreign countries make pledges even without the President making a state visit?
Moreover, it is hard to believe that the President’s trip can be sanctioned official when, on the side of the trip, he attends car races, coronations, and other private activities that are not for the President to charge to the people.
Yes, we know that the President needs to sometimes rest as he is only human. We know that he needs to do his hobbies and relax once in a while in order to prevent a burn-out. Still, the President must know that his job is a “24/7” service. He may have excesses from time to time but not on a consistent basis where he travels to far away distances, far from the prying eyes of his constituents, and far from their curiosity as to what he is really doing. Is it official or not? The more he travels, the more the Filipino’s curiosity is ticked.
The DFA said there will be more travels scheduled for the President. How many more? At the rate he is going, he will probably be traveling 64 more times to destinations nobody knows where. By the time he is finished, he will be the most traveled President, not only in the Philippines, but the whole world.