Duterte shortens trip, blames Trump tariffs for inflation
President Duterte and Jordan’s King Abdullah II (second from right) witness an urban guerrilla demonstration during a visit to a military facility at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center in Amman, Jordan on Sept. 6. Also in photo is Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (right).
Duterte shortens trip, blames Trump tariffs for inflation
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - September 8, 2018 - 12:00am

AMMAN – President Duterte cut short his official visit here to save on costs and to be with his family, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Duterte was supposed to depart for the Philippines on Saturday but he decided to do so yesterday.

At the same time, the President blamed tariffs slapped by his US counterpart Donald Trump on some goods for the record high inflation for which Duterte faces a public backlash.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said there was no special reason for the earlier-than-scheduled departure but noted that a shorter visit means less costs. He also admitted that the week-long visit to Israel and Jordan was tiresome for the 73-year-old President.

“One day shorter means one day less expense for the taxpayers. Why not?” Roque said in a press briefing here.

“Of course, we are all very tired. The President is very tired. But if it means being with his family a day earlier and sparing taxpayers from another day of expense, he decided to come home earlier,” he added.

Roque said the trip was cut short without cancelling any engagement.

The Philippines’ headline inflation hit a nine-year high of 6.4 percent last month. Economic managers attributed this to higher food prices as well as costs of fuel, electricity and transport.

Meeting the Filipino community here, however, Duterte blamed tariffs imposed by Trump: “Inflation is dahil ‘yan kay Trump. When Trump raised yung mga tarrif niya, pati banned other items, nagkaloko-loko."

Duterte said he would leave it to his economic managers to address the impact of inflation.

“I am not apologizing. There is really inflation and we are trying to control it,” he said.

Duterte met with King Abdullah II Thursday and was shown Jordanian military hardware. 

“There is no decision yet on whether the government will buy. So we just saw what was available in the market. And I think the decision what to buy will be left to the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” Roque said.

Before flying to Davao City, Duterte met with the members of the Filipino community here. He was expected to arrive in the country Saturday morning.

Duterte to answer questions

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go said Duterte will answer all questions, particularly on Proclamation 572, when he arrives today from Jordan.

“The President will give his statement,” Go yesterday said. 

 “Our President can come home to attend to important work in the country,” Go said in Filipino.  

The President’s arrival statement is much-awaited especially since Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has refused to surrender to the authorities and has since been holed up at the Senate. 

Go also denied that the proclamation, which declared Trillanes’ amnesty void from the beginning, was another step to silence the opposition.

“It is not true. Let’s just wait for the President’s return,” Go said in a radio interview.

Go added that Duterte is expected to give his take on Fr. Noel Gatchalian’s joke during his homily recently that he prayed for Duterte to get sick.

“It’s not a good joke because he wished for the President to fall ill,” Go said, adding that “may God forgive” the priest.

Go also said the President will address the 6.4 percent inflation rate last month, adding that the government’s economic managers have requested for a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday next week.

Anxious caretaker

Meanwhile, being a caretaker of the government has apparently brought anxiety to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

He said yesterday it has been doubly stressful as he had to handle controversial issues while President Duterte was abroad.

“I am phobic about being the caretaker,” Guevarra said in Filipino during his speech at the 52nd Founding Anniversary of the National Police

Commission in Quezon City where he was the guest of honor and speaker.

The latest controversy which Guevarra faced while in charge of the government’s affairs is the proclamation issued by Duterte, which

revoked Trillanes’ amnesty.

Guevarra said he was at the airport last Sunday for the departure ceremony for the President, who was on his way to Israel and Jordan when Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea handed him a copy of Proclamation 572 nullifying Trillanes’ amnesty.

“The Executive Secretary said, read it carefully. I had a feeling it’s another proclamation,” Guevarra said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

He was hoping for a peaceful week while Duterte and his entourage were abroad. However, he realized it was no longer the case after he read the document.

“It’s going to be a difficult, explosive week. True enough, it’s what happened,” said Guevarra. “Since Monday, that thing has been occupying my attention.” – With Emmanuel Tupas

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