When President Benigno Aquino assumed office, one of the most important things that his staff had to do was to renew his expired (six years) passport. True enough that as a member of the Philippine Congress, he rarely traveled reason why he has expired passport. In 2010, he limited his foreign trips to only three – USA, Vietnam and Japan, which was originally scheduled for eight trips abroad for the same year..
Before PNoy is not fond of traveling unless there is a necessity for it and will benefit the country in some ways. Unlike his predecessor, former President Gloria Arroyo has eighty-one international trips from August 2001 to September 2009 (an average of nine trips per year). That is why in PNoy’s inaugural address, he mentioned that he will put an end to junkets and senseless spending especially in foreign trips. He would rather send his cabinet secretaries to such trips than attend to them himself.
But in 2011, PNoy had eleven foreign trips which included USA (twice), Japan (twice), Indonesia (thrice), Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and China. According to the Palace press office, all these trips were meetings, summits and conferences that will establish solidarity among neighboring countries. Aside from establishing contacts for possible foreign investments and job opportunities for our overseas Filipino workers.
For the current year, the scheduled trips abroad for the President are for the following: Cambodia in April; USA, United Kingdom after the high level meeting of DND secretary Voltaire Gazmin and DFA secretary Albert del Rosario with DOD secretary Leon Panetta and State Department secretary Hillary Clinton by the end of April; Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Rome in Italy and probably Belgium and Germany. Now, can the President refuse all these as part of his job as the leader of this nation and still say he is not fond of traveling?
Actually there is one summit he didn’t attend last week, the one in Seoul, South Korea, the two-day Nuclear Security Summit which was attended by our Vice President, Jejomar Binay. It was timed with the arrival and state visit by the Emir of Kuwait, an important meeting that PNoy had to attend to..
With so many scheduled travels prepared for him, the president's diplomat-advisers should look into the condition and welfare of Filipinos living in those places where he's going. There's a possible security arrangement and investment opportunities from Australia and New Zealand. In September, the APEC meeting will be hosted by Russia. APEC(Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) blogsite said that Russia is bolstering it's food security. This is a welcome information to our local food producers and exporters. Russia can also supply us with gas and oil just in case war broke out in Iran. A barter trade could be in the offing among nations if currency wars continue.
The nation has to be on the lookout for the two most important travels ahead by PNoy, the one in Washington DC and in the United Kingdom. Remember that the postponed 2+2 defense meeting in Washington was moved to April 30. This is the first meeting to be attended by DFA Secretary Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Gazmin with their Washington’s counterpart – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. This bilateral talk will focus on both country’s foreign policy via-à-vis defense cooperation.
Then by May, PNoy will visit Washington which will be followed by his trip to the UK. Some pundits are monitoring these future trips because of the possible repeat of what happened to former president GMA when she was appointed by President Barack Obama as the coordinator in Asia for the war on terror. The schedule of the trips and the high-level defense meeting is suspect for a possible agenda that might put our country back to Uncle Sam’s pawn in the global war on terror (GWOT).
If the present leadership will not be cautious enough, he might be trapped in a game where he is enjoying himself too much with so much power and “perks” and will forget what happened in contemporary history when leaders from different countries, including here were ousted with the blessing of a perceived ally. Or maybe, just maybe, he has already an idea what such trip will bring – translation, his benefit more than the country’s.
Be transparent Mr. President and give what is rightfully due us, your constituents, YOUR BOSS! Is it more fun traveling than noynoying?