With 2018 barely a few days old, we hope to see among many other things both local and national government agencies fully complying with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to reduce, if not totally eliminate, any unnecessary trips either within or outside the country.
President Duterte cited excessive foreign trips as the reason for firing all commissioners in the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP).
He even mentioned as ironic his sacking of commission chairman Terry Ridon for making seven trips abroad since he heads an agency that’s supposed to help the country’s poor.
Never mind if Ridon justified his trips as having been previously authorized by the Office of the President though it can be speculated that the trips may have been green-lighted by the previous administration.
“Basta sabihin ko muna walang travel. Mag-starvation diet muna tayo diyan (I say no more travels. Let’s undergo a starvation diet for now),” President Duterte announced during a recent gathering.
His travel ban order took effect on Jan. 1, the first Monday of the year and it would be interesting for us Filipinos to see who among the top agency chiefs based here in Cebu and elsewhere were scheduled to go abroad for what is presumed to be the first of many junkets abroad that are paid for by Pinoy taxpayers’ money.
We hope that local officials in Cebu also impose this restriction on themselves and on fellow locally elected and appointed officials in their respective local governments.
In fact, we hope that the Commission on Audit (COA) in tandem with the Ombudsman, will monitor these officials and, in keeping with the Duterte administration’s vow of transparency, publish a list of government officials taking trips abroad.
That said, while the President’s directive may be laudable, it remains to be seen if it will be effective especially among officials in the government bureaucracy who insist that it is in line with the mandates of their respective offices.
Among those who are frequent travelers abroad are mid-level to top brass of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) who justify their foreign trips as essential for their “professional enrichment/advancement.”
As if people need a reason to go abroad to learn that rainfall can be used to augment the water needs of households. And exactly how would their “education” be used to improve their services to their clientele, the Filipino taxpayers who paid for their fare and allowances?
If these local officials do go abroad, they should pay their own way and if they allow themselves to be sponsored, that’s just another reason for them to be sacked or to be dropped by voters come election day.