AN opposition House leader yesterday said all branches of government should be covered by President Rodrigo Duterte's order barring officials in the Executive from taking foreign junkets, except for diplomats or officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a member of the Magnificent 7 or the so-called House genuine opposition, said the directive of the President must be extended to the two other branches of government -- the legislative and the judicial.
“I agree and support that policy. Only necessary official travels for all government officials not only for the Executive branch but for all branches of government,” said Alejano.
Nevertheless, Alejano said “government officials should still have the option to travel abroad as long as it is not during office days and not using government funds.”
President Duterte said his foreign travel ban covers members of the Executive branch starting January 1, 2018.
The Vice President and Cabinet members will be affected by the President’s travel ban.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III and Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting welcomed President Duterte’s order and his call for government agencies to take an active role in tracking down public officials who had made unnecessary travels.
Albano said President Duterte is just promoting good governance by setting an example to all officials and employees of the government.
“The President has started to live by example,” said Albano, a Majority Leader for the 12-man House contingent to the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA). “If there is no reason to travel, why travel?”
“I respect the decision of the President. In general, the Executive Department serves at the pleasure of the President and is under his control. If the President feels this is necessary to improve the service of the Executive Branch, that is his prerogative. He (President Duterte) can decide how to spend the funds of the executive department,” said Tambunting, who chairs the House Committee on Games and Amusements.
However, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said the President’s order was unnecessary as “all travels of the Executive branch are approved by the Office of the President or through Cabinet officials who are the President’s alter egos.”
“After much traveling by Malacañang officials in 2017, now they want a travel ban in 2018. It is up to Malacañang to decide which travels are deemed necessary,” said Villarin, another member of the Magnificent 7.
Earlier, President Duterte said he would also ask agencies to find out which officials had gone on excessive trips abroad.
President Duterte said the order was intended so as to be “strict in terms of money” to ensure that public money do not go to waste.
The Chief Executive sacked several government officials for allegedly taking unnecessary trips abroad, such as Dangerous Drugs Board chief Dionisio Santiago and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chief Terry Ridon.