Malacañang on Wednesday welcomed the plan of Sen. Grace Poe to look into government expenses on President Rodrigo Duterte’s trips abroad, amid reports that some Cabinet members were traveling with their family members.
Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Poe has the right to review the expenses of government for foreign trips but insisted that all officials who participated in Duterte’s Moscow trip were all “necessary” in dealing with the Russian government.
“Well, it’s her prerogative to ask but basically, we need to understand that the President is really a leader right now. [He] is really leading in restructuring relationships, international relationships,” Abella said during a chance interview.
“We should recognize how deeply he has become. He’s emerging as a leader regionally and internationally. And I think that needs to be understood as within his scope. Everybody who went to Russia was necessary,” he added.
Abella issued the statement after Poe expressed interest to look into the expense record of the government in Duterte’s foreign visits, following the questionable participation of top Philippine officials who went to Russia.
Poe, in a television interview on Monday, questioned why some of the high-level officials who were part of the official delegation even brought their relatives with them.
The Senator said having huge delegation abroad does not “send a good signal” to the country.
“I haven’t seen their expense reports. Perhaps, when we have our budget hearing, I can look into that. We will look into that,” Poe said. “The government has to be very conservative when it comes to expenses.”
Duterte was in Russia to hold a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for sealing bilateral deals when clashes between government troops and Maute terrorist group erupted in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, on May 23.