Malacañang Globetrotters

President Arroyo usually brings with her the entire Cabinet
President Arroyo usually brings with her the entire Cabinet

At a time when an energy crisis, swine flu and expensive airfares make world travel difficult, a team of globetrotters defy the odds and travel at a regular basis.

As President Arroyo reaches the twilight of her tenure as chief executive, she plans to take advantage of her remaining months by going on different trips. Most of them seem to be leisure, but as the Palace would always say it is indeed business. Her last trip, according to her spokespersons, netted $2 B worth of investments. It seems like its worth it, but how many times have we heard before of planned foreign investments that fail to employ even a single Filipino?

Yet her visits continue, bringing with her the usual entourage: which is 1/3 of the House of Representatives and 2/3 of her Palace staff. The globetrotters then stay in a five-star hotel and receive the finest accommodations. And instead of being paid for by the host countries when she makes official state visits, the amount is pulled out of a Filipino taxpayer’s pocket.

Definitely, a nation must be embodied by its leader during international events such as summits of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). But bringing with her such a huge entourage at a time when the economy is struggling to grow?

The president’s travel expenses must be within the budget allotted by law, and the budget allotted by law should be a surplus sum or should be pooled from lawmakers excess pork. In other words, the budget the President uses for her travel should be unimportant and should not be given priority. And when she does travel, she should review the entourage and evaluate everyone if that person is needed on the trip or not.

Attracting foreign investments is an impractical reason for a President to make such extravagant visits. Foreign investment came to countries like Taiwan and Vietname not because their Presidents making overseas trips but because of their success in making their countries economically-feasible and business friendly. Something President Arroyo’s administration failed to do in its nine-year tenure.

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