P49-M Aquino trip to Switzerland is not modest, says critics

CRITICS of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III slammed Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda for trying to make it appear that the 63-man delegation of the government to the World Economic Forum (WEF) was trying their best to modest to save taxpayers money like bringing in to the trip Malacanang chef to cook for the presidential entourage and staying in staying in Swiss chalets.

“There is no modesty in the P 49-million budget for the Switzerland escapade of Mr. Aquino. The 63-man delegation of the President is a junket trip. It is simple as that and this is grand wastage of people’s money,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson and Anakpawis party list no.1 nominee Fernando Hicap said.

Hicap denounced the P 49-million budget Malacanang had allotted for the 63-man delegation that would accompany the Chief Executive at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

“It is one horrendous affair. How can Mr. Aquino go on a junket trip, spend millions of taxpayers money for a European field trip while hundreds of thousands in calamity stricken areas in Southern Mindanao have yet to receive sufficient relief from the government. This is immoral.. Mr. Aquino and his gangland of 63 are certified immoral people,” said Hicap.

Another Pamalaklaya leader, Salvador France argued that P 1 million budget for the Presidential trip is sufficient budget for him to attend state functions and official meetings slated during the five-day meeting of head of states and economic managers in the key Swiss city in Southern Europe.

“Why P 49 million? Mr. Aquino is using people’s money to treat close friends and associates with a European field trip. This one terrifies us. It is really mind-boggling,” added France.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. told reporters covering Malacanang that President Aquino is expected to highlight the administration’s anti-corruption and will make pitch on the country’s readiness to absorb foreign capital through fresh investments. The little President said Aquino is expected to join economic discussions with world leaders and global business icons during the five-day economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Frankly speaking the P 49 million budget for 63 free riders of this European field trip under the pretext of state visit is a high crime of corruption by itself,” said Pamalakaya’s France.

President Aquino left Manila yesterday with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary to the President Jose Rene Almendras and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricardo Carandang.

Pamalakaya said the P 49-million covers the delegation’s chartered flight to Switzerland, accommodations, transportation, food and equipment, and telecommunications requirements, among others. “If former First Lady Imelda Marcos is Imeldific, Mr. Aquino is the Godfather of Junket Trips,” the group said.

Last year, Pamalakaya noted that President Aquino brought with him a 60-man delegation to Laos during the 9th edition of Asean-Europe Meeting held on November 2012. The group said also on October last year, President Aquino brought a 90-man delegation during his state visit to Australia and New Zealand. The group said the President has yet to account how much taxpayers money were spent during those large-entourage trips to Australia, New Zealand and Laos.

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