Solon on Duterte’s HK trip: Working visit or PR tour?
“A big waste of taxpayer money” that should have gone to poor rice farmers instead. This was how an opposition lawmaker described President Duterte’s visit to Hong Kong on Thursday.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, one of Mr. Duterte’s most vocal critics, said the Hong Kong trip on April 11 to 12 ended up as “a big waste of taxpayer money … all for PR purposes.”
In a statement, Alejano noted that “Duterte and senior government officials in his entourage, including Foreign Secretary [Alan] Peter Cayetano and [Philippine National] Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa, did not meet any Hong Kong official, rendering the ‘working visit’ a mere waste of taxpayer money.”
Mr. Duterte’s Hong Kong visit was preceded by a two-day trip to China’s Hainan province from April 9 to 10 for the Boao Forum for Asia, where he said he witnessed the signing of investment deals amounting to $9.5 billion that could reportedly generate 10,800 jobs for Filipinos back home.
2010 hostage crisis
In a speech before some 2,000 mostly domestic helpers in Hong Kong, the President formally apologized for the 2010 hostage crisis in Manila, where a disgruntled former police officer killed eight Hong Kong tourists before he was shot dead by snipers.
“Aside from giving a speech and supposedly dining in a fast food chain, all for PR purposes, what has his so-called ‘working visit’ achieved for the benefit of our country and people? Nothing!” Alejano said.
Hypocrisy of highest order
“(President Duterte) has sacked some officials for overseas junkets or trips. But he has done it himself just now in Hong Kong with his family members and a large entourage, dining and sight-seeing in that city, presumably with taxpayers paying for the considerable costs of their stay in Hong Kong. Isn’t this hypocrisy (of) the highest order?” the party-list representative added.
“Millions of pesos must have been spent by Duterte and his entourage during their Hong Kong junket. Why weren’t these millions of pesos used instead to help poor rice farmers by buying their palay at even P22 per kilo so that the (National Food Authority or NFA) will immediately have stocks of cheap rice that they can sell at just P28 to P30 per kilo to poor Filipinos?” Alejano asked.
“How can poor Filipinos find cheap rice from the NFA if Duterte and his officials are spending taxpayer money enjoying the good life in Hong Kong and other overseas junkets,” he added.
Alejano said rice farmers should be given better treatment instead of being left at the mercy of traders, many of whom exploit them.
“Duterte should expand and strengthen his government’s assistance to rice farmers using savings that can be made by limiting foreign travels to the barest minimum,” he said.
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