PGMA's foreign trips are in search of solutions to RP problems – Remonde

June 22, 2009 8:50 am 

MANILA, June 22 — Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde said today President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's foreign travels are all part of her search for solutions to the country's problems such as unemployment, enhance trade and encourage foreign investments to grow the economy.

In a radio interview this morning in Manila (7:45 p.m. in North America), Remonde said the President's travels are not meant to avoid or escape from the problems in the country as her detractors claim, but rather to search for solutions to those problems.

"Ang pagbibiyahe niya ay pag-aasikaso pa rin sa mga pangangailangan ng bayan, pagtugon pa rin ng mga problema ng ating bayan. (Her trips are in search of solutions to problems nagging our country)," Remonde explained.

He said the President's foreign trips are all documented and audited by the Commission on Audit (COA).

He pointed out that all heads of state, not only President Arroyo, travel frequently to meet the leaders of other countries.

"Dapat maintindihan ng ating mga kababayan, na hindi lang ang ating Pangulo ang laging bumibiyahe ngayon. Ganon din ang Pangulo ng ibang mga bansa, even sa ASEAN. Ito po ay kailangan talaga bilang bahagi ng international response sa mga problema nating kinakaharap. At sana po ay maintindihan iyan ng ating mga kababayan. (This is the reality. Its not only President Arroyo who frequently travels. Other heads of states, even in ASEAN do the same — all in search of solutions to domestic and global problems)," he said.

Earlier reports quoted Sen. Panfilo Lacson as having said the President has spent over P1 billion for her travels with congressmen and senators.

Remonde said the President's travels are meant to create trade and development opportunities and perk up the labor market, and she has accomplished a lot to help our country survive the global crisis.

He also dismissed the claims of Lacson that the President?s travels cost P800 million every year. The President's official delegation usually includes the President and selected Cabinet members. If there are senators or congressmen with her, they are representing their respective legislative committees, Remonded added.

The expenses of those who accompany the President in her foreign travels are not shouldered by Malacanang but by their respective offices, he said.

"In the official delegation, we are usually about 10. The rest are members of either legislative or company delegations numbering about 10-15," he pointed out.

Remonde said the benefits that President Arroyo brings home from her travels more than compensate for the cost of her trips. For instance, in Japan, she was able to obtain USD 500 million worth of official development assistance aside from several other private-sector investment agreements.

"We were able to secure jobs for our nurses, caregivers and other professionals in Japan. These are just examples. I can assure our countrymen that all the travels of our President are official and working visits, not junkets or vacations," he stressed.

"Truth is, we are very exhausted after each trip because of her numerous official activities. Those in the media who cover her travels are witnesses to the hectic and backbreaking pace of work during her travels," Remonde said. (PNA) /V3/OPS/utb/

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