JETSETTING PRESIDENT. President Duterte is slated to go on several trips abroad this 2018. Malacañang file photo
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has foreign trips lined up for the year, possibly starting with India for the commemorative summit between that country and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Aside from India, trips to South Korea, Australia, and Israel are also being planned for Duterte this year, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday, January 3.
"I think these are planned visits. So far it’s being discussed between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the countries that have invited the President," Roque said during a Malacañang press briefing.
The first trip of the year will likely be to India where Duterte will attend the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on January 25 in New Delhi. Indian media reported that all 10 ASEAN leaders are attending the gathering, and also India's Republic Day events on January 26.
Roque said there are no definite dates yet on the President's visits to South Korea, Israel, and Australia.
Asked about the purpose of these foreign trips, Roque said, "These visits, of course, will have very specific goals and part of a state visit or working visit is always to promote trade and investments as far as the Philippines is concerned."
The President is also expected to attend international events that require his presence such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Summit in Papua New Guinea, and the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Singapore.
Duterte had earlier expressed his aversion to long-haul trips but but had gone on a number of foreign travels during his first year – enough to make him the most traveled Philippine president in the first year in office.
Some of these trips, which include visits to China, Japan, Peru, and Russia, racked up thrice the amount of expenses his predecessors spent on their official travels abroad. Malacañang justified the expenses by citing the economic deals that the trips generated for the country, and how they improved the Philippines' standing with foreign powers.
While he has been going on official trips abroad, Duterte is against other officials in the executive doing the same. He earlier ordered officials under the executive branch not to go on official foreign trips beginning this year, saying the trips were a waste of government funds.
Duterte has fired several of his appointees for frequent travels abroad. These include Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chairman Terry Ridon and the body's other commissioners, and Development Academy of the Philippines Elba Cruz. – Rappler.com