Palace issues memo governing foreign travels of officials

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Palace issues memo governing foreign travels of officials

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued new guidelines that would govern the travel of officials and personnel under the government's executive department. File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang issued a new set of guidelines that would govern the travels abroad of government officials and personnel in the executive department.

In issuing the memorandum dated Jan. 3, 2018, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the new guidelines were issued to ensure compliance with the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte against "extravagant and lavish travels" abroad by officials belonging to the executive department.

Medialdea said foreign trips of government officials and personnel would be allowed only if the purpose of the travel was "strictly" within the mandate of the requesting government official or personnel. The expenses of the said travel should not also be excessive, and the trip should bring substantial benefit to the country, Medialdea said in his memorandum.

Medialdea's memorandum came after two heads of government agencies were fired by Duterte because of alleged unnecessary foreign travels in December.

Duterte fired the commissioners of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, including its head, Terry Ridon, because of their alleged unnecessary foreign trips and their failure to regularly hold meetings.

Ridon, a former representative of the left-leaning Kabataan party-list group, traveled seven times since being appointed to the position in September 2016, according to the chief executive.

“To think the office is an urban poor agency, I don't understand why you have to be there at every pow wow in the international scene,” he added.

Just more than a week later, Duterte fired Elba Cruz, former president of the Development Academy of the Philippines, after her employees accused her of mismanagement and frequent trips to other countries.

To avoid a repeat of these, Medialdea said government officials and personnel would not be allowed to depart for a foreign country, even if such a trip was private and for a personal purpose, unless they had already secured the appropriate travel authorization from their offices and duly accomplished the necessary leave forms. Their trip should also not hamper the operation of the said government agency, the memorandum added.

Medialdea is also requiring heads of agencies to submit quarterly lists of all travel authorities they have issued. The said lists should contain the names of the concerned officials, their destination, the duration of their trip, the nature and purpose of their travel, its total cost and a brief statement on how the official complied with the criteria issued by the Palace.

"The requirement to submit quarterly lists of travel authorities issued shall also be observed by the Department of Interior and Local Government with regard to foreign travels of local government officials," the executive secretary said.

The heads of agencies should also provide the Office of the Executive Secretary with recommendations on the seminars and conferences attended by their traveling personnel.

Medialdea warned that failure to comply with the guidelines in the new memorandum might result in the filing of administrative actions for misconduct, insubordination and other offenses under the Civil Service Commission Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service and other laws against the traveling government employee and even his superior.

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