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Palace to FVR: What junket?

Malacanang on Friday dismissed former President Fidel V. Ramos' claim that the recent official visit of President Duterte to Russia became a junket for several government officials who had no business joining the taxpayer-funded trip.

'The official visit of President Duterte to Moscow was an important and strategic move that significantly broadened the horizon of our independent foreign policy. It was important to have key members of the President's administration to accompany him,' presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

'(The President's) leadership style is considered deliberate, even 'fearless,' in the words of President Xi Jinping; it is also very relational, which can be misconstrued by managerial types like FVR,' he said.

Abella said the 'best gauge' would be the outcome of the Russia visit, adding that 'aside from the financial windfall coming our way, the phenomenal support most Filipinos give him indicate that he is doing something right.'

The President had to cut short his trip in Russia early this week after he placed Mindanao under martial law to quell the siege of the Maute terror group.

The members of President Duterte's official delegation who went to Russia-as provided to the media-included 19 names.

They were: Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III; Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano; Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez; Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre; Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol; Public Works Secretary Mark Villar; Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana; Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial; Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez; Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Science and Technology Secretary Fortunano dela Pena; Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi; Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia; Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar; Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go; Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian; and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

The list did not include Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Eduardo Ano, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo who were also in Russia.

Also spotted in Moscow were Tourism Promotions Board chief Cesar Montano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

Actors Robin Padilla and Philip Salvador were also in Moscow.

After Mr. Duterte decided to cut short his visit to Russia because of the terror attacks in Marawi, he asked several Cabinet members to stay behind to continue some of the programs and to sign agreements.

Those who stayed in Russia include Cayetano, Lopez, Teo, Pinol, Delos Santos and Cusi.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:May 27, 2017
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