OP's foreign travel expenses jumped by over 1000% in 2022 — COA report

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
OP's foreign travel expenses jumped by over 1000% in 2022 � COA report
President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. and first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos depart from the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City for his state visit to China on January 3, 2023.
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 5:22 PM) — The Office of the President's travel expenses for foreign trips increased by around 1453% in 2022, according to the Commission on Audit.

State auditors found that foreign travel-related expenses at the OP jumped by around P367,052,245.96 from P25,255,163.95 in 2021 to P392,307,409.91 in 2022.

The “significant increase” went to the expenses incurred by the OP for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s foreign travels during the start of his term in 2022, according to the 2022 annual audit report.

“Significant increase of P367 million is due to the official travels relative to the foreign summits and state visits attended by the president during the year in Singapore, Indonesia, United States of America, Cambodia, Thailand, and Belgium,” state auditors said.

Combined with the expenses for local travels, the OP’s travel-related expenses amounted to a total of P403 million in 2022 — a significant increase from OP’s P37 million travel expenses in 2021.

In a statement sent to media, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said that the increase in travel expenses were a result of the easing of pandemic restrictions in 2022, which allowed the president to travel around the country for various projects and programs.

"As everyone knows, 2021 was the height of the pandemic when mobility was restricted, with lockdowns implemented all throughout the country. With the opening of the economy and lifting of restrictions in 2022, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has begun going around the country to ensure that various programs, projects and assistance of the government reach its intended beneficiaries as part of the post-Covid recovery efforts," Garafil said.

The OP has also received numerous invitations to international events and state visits, Garafil added.

"... The OP has acceded to some of these requests, knowing that the country and the public, in general, will benefit immensely from the President’s participation in these engagements," she said.

"We reiterate that the Administration, guided by its 8-point socioeconomic agenda, avails of opportunities to generate more foreign investments in our post-pandemic recovery initiatives.  At the same time, we also hope to elevate our position in the international community through stronger bilateral ties and improved relations with multilateral or international organizations," she added.

Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women's Party) said the "extravagant" travel expenses of the OP should have been allocated for poverty alleviation programs as the president's foreign travels do not directly address the cost of rising goods.

"Moreover, these foreign trips are also an attempt to rehabilitate the Marcos family's image at the international stage charged on people's taxes," Brosas said.

According to the 2022 annual audit report, foreign travel expenses cover all the costs incurred in the movement or transport of government officials and employees outside the country.

State auditors said this includes "transportation, travel per diem, passport and visa processing and all other travel-related expenses."

Meanwhile, travel-related expenses for domestic trips decreased from P11.5 million in 2021 to P10.8 million in 2022. 

Marcos began his term as president June 2022, while 2021 was the last full fiscal year under the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The OP requested a nearly 58% increase in its 2024 budget for local or foreign visits from 2023. This amounts to P1.41 billion, or over one-tenth of the OP's planned budget for 2024.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with