P 3 billion for foreign trips is shocking, unpardonable, says Pamalakaya
Critics told GMA: “Stop world tour, spare taxpayers’ money”
Shocked by the disclosure of opposition senator Francis Escudero that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could have spent over P 3 billion taxpayers money for her foreign trips since she assumed the presidency in 2001, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged the President to stop her world tour and spare billions of taxpayers’ money.
“If she wants to see the world in 80 days, she should use her own money, not the hard-earned taxes paid by the Filipino public. She is using public office and public funds for these senseless escapades abroad,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
According to Sen. Escudero, President Arroyo might have spent P 3 billion for the foreign trips she had taken since 2001. Escudero, also a leading presidentiable in the 2010 national elections, noted that Malacañang had spent over P 2 billion for travels for a five year period—2002 up to 2007. Last year, the Office of the President alloted P 408.6 million for travels, and allocated P 436 million for the foreign trips of Ms Arroyo this year.
Escudero also said the travel budget for 2007 was set at P 300.2 million for both local and foreign trips but this ballooned to P 693 million or more than double of what was authorized in the 2007 national budget.
The Pamalakaya leader said billions of taxpayers’ money was spent for white elephant trips of President Arroyo abroad. “The economy remains bad and in chronic crisis, the state of people’s health and education are worse than before, nothing has been done to uplift the lives of every ordinary Filipino,” added Hicap.
Pamalakaya agreed with Escudero, that Malacañang could have used the allocated budget as supplement to the budgets of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute which received a low budget of P 227.5 million in 2007, the Lung Center of the Philippines (P 221.5 million), the Philippine Heart Center (P 287 million) and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (P 239.5 million), all in the same year.
“Malacañang is spending more to the Imeldific and high end activities of the President and her rabid loyalists in and out of Malacañang. Ms Arroyo, indeed has practiced and emulated the lifestyle of former President Ferdinand Marcos and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, when the Marcoses were still in power. This is really horrible,” said Pamalakaya.
The militant group suggested to the leadership of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a joint resolution calling a halt to President Arroyo’s future travels abroad starting July up to the May 2010 elections.
“Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Prospero Nograles are known staunch allies of President Arroyo. But for the sake of national interest and the collective sentiment of the Filipino public and the taxpaying people of this country, the leaders of Congress should cross party lines and tell Ms Arroyo to stop her world tour project,” said Pamalakaya.
The militant group said it would be better if both Houses conduct a separate or joint congressional inquiry into the foreign trips of President Arroyo and find out the damages these foreign trips had done to Filipino people and to the taxpaying public. #