Lawmakers urge to grill GMA on P 2.7 billion foreign trips
Leftwing militants identified with the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)on Saturday lawmakers to cross party lines and place President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under intense scrutiny for spending P 2.7 B in taxpayers money for her trips abroad since 2001.
“Lawmakers in the name of national interest and public moral are legally and politically obliged to undertake a full-blown inquiry on GMA foreign trips which already ate up nearly three billion pesos in taxpayers money since 2003,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap in a press statement.
The Pamalakaya leader put to task Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to lead their colleagues in both houses to investigating President Arroyo, whom Hicap described as the country’s top frequent flyer at the turn of the millennium.
“Enrile and Nograles should quit acting as if they are lawyers and spokespersons of President Arroyo. Now is the time to prove to the people that they are not lapdogs and puppets of the Frequent Flyer in Malacañang,” said Hicap.
Pamalakaya said public interest calls for the investigation of President Arroyo’s world tour since she assumed the presidency in 2001. The militant group said Enrile and Nograles cannot ignore the rising demand of the people to have Mrs. Arroyo investigated and later punished for her all-out raid of national coffers.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, according to a report made by the Commission on Audit, has racked up P2.7 billion in expenses in her foreign trips since 2003, or more than double the P1.1-billion limit set by Congress from 2003 to 2008.
In a presentation on Aug. 12 by COA Assistant Commissioner Carmela Perez, with additional research by his staff, Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III said the President’s foreign travels cost P332 million in 2003 (from a budget of P72 million), P256 million in 2004 (from P74 million), P325 million in 2005 (from P209 million), P421 million in 2006 (from P261 million), P656 million in 2007 (from P261 million) and P722 million in 2008 (from P244 million).
President Arroyo went on 50 foreign trips from 2003 to 2008, a number of which involved multiple destinations crisscrossing continents that required the charter of an A330 Boeing.
COA records also showed that the President spent some P1.44 billion on her foreign travels from 2002 to 2007.