Marcos to travel abroad less, but APEC in November still a priority

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Marcos to travel abroad less, but APEC in November still a priority
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. arrived from his trip to Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum on January 21, 2023.
Facebook / Bongbong Marcos

MANILA, Philippines — After going on eight official foreign trips in the first seven months as chief executive, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he plans to cut down on travels this year to implement the agreements made in those trips.

In an almost hour-long pre-recorded interview with news anchors and aired on state television on Monday evening, Marcos Jr. said he wanted to travel and attend conferences first because he was the “new kid on the block.” 

He added that the visibility of the Philippines in the international arena would also be helpful in securing potential investors.

“We’re cutting our travels for the rest of the year now because we want to take inventory of what we started with while attending the ASEAN Summit, APEC, even the work we did with the EU in Brussels, as well as the trip to Davos,” Marcos Jr. said in Filipino. 

“We need to take into account what we had agreed upon and take stock of the discussions and decide which ones to prioritize, none of which we’ve done yet because we keep going out of the country.”

RELATED: Marcos Jr. foreign visits yield $23.6 billion investment pledges

Despite this, he said they have already confirmed the Philippine delegation’s attendance to this year’s APEC, which will be held in the United States in November. Marcos Jr. did not say if his planned state visit to the US this year would push through.

Marcos Jr., the jet-setter

Since he assumed office in June last year, Marcos had gone on eight official travels — a mix of state visits and official trips to international conferences. He was in Indonesia and Singapore for state visits in the first week of September, before flying to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The chief executive also went on a weekend trip to Singapore for the Formula One Grand Prix in October. In the face of criticism for being abroad while a typhoon was battering parts of the country, Marcos Jr. said the trip was "the best way to drum up business."

In November, he went to Cambodia for the ASEAN Summit and then attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting held in Thailand.

He ended 2022 with a trip to Belgium for the ASEAN-European Union Commemorative Summit and started the year with a state visit to China

Just last week, Marcos Jr. came back from a trip to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. He was criticized after the Philippine delegation reportedly had 70 members, prompting the public to ask – who foots the bill for these trips?

‘Return of investment’

“I don’t have the figures,” Marcos Jr. said when asked about the cost of his trips and the number of individuals in the official and the unofficial entourages.

Citing investment pledges, most of which have yet to come to fruition, Marcos Jr. just emphasized that the official travels are important because of the business he brings back.

“[In] terms of the cost, the way I see it, you have to look at it in terms of [return of investment]. Do we bring something back or do we not?" Marcos said.

RELATED: Pacts signed with China just ‘continuation’ of past agreements, analysts say

He also added that apart from his Cabinet secretaries and their respective staff members and security, the Philippine delegation is also formed by members of the private sector – most of whom, he says, spend their own money during their travels.

"There’s accountability and transparency in everything that we do," Marcos Jr. said. 

"The critics will have their say but those who are actually contemplating putting good money into the Philippines have other issues and accountability and transparency is not an issue," he adds.

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