Europe trip was no junket – military official

Published March 13, 2019, 5:46 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling

The recent trip of a government delegation to Europe was no junket as the members even tried to save money on food and hotel during the mission, a senior military official said Wednesday.

Although he did not say how much public funds were spent for the foreign trip, Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for civil military operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade bared that they slept in the houses of fellow Filipinos and ate street food to reduce travel costs.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade

“Hindi fair. Mali ‘yung junket [It’s not fair. It’s wrong to say it was a junket,” Parlade said during a Palace press briefing after some groups questioned the necessity of the foreign trip last month.

“Hindi naman kami nag-usap kung magkano ginastos namin. But basically pamasahe, hindi naman libre ang pamasahe, magho-hotel ka, pero dahil maliit lang ang per diem ng gobyerno, nakikitira na lang kami sa mga kaibigan namin. Kumakain kami doon sa kumbaga bangketa para makatipid [We didn’t talk about how much we spent but basically there was airfare, it was not free, and since government’s per diem is small, we did not stay in a hotel, we slept in the houses of our friends. We also ate food along the sidewalk to cut costs],” he said, admitting food and hotel fees in Europe were expensive.

Parlade and more than a dozen government officials traveled to Bosnia, Belgium and Switzerland last month to clarify issues on enforced and involuntary disappearances, and communist insurgency, among others, before the United Nations and the European Union. A press freedom caravan was also conducted by Presidential Communications Operations Office supposedly to maximize the trip.

Some lawmakers have questioned the latest European trip of the concerned government officials, saying public funds should have been spent on vital projects such as information campaign on vaccination program.

Parlade explained that the government has been invited four to five times to explain its position about the case of involuntary disappearances. He said it was only now that the government accepted the invitation to present its case before the international community.

“Ngayon na pinuntahan na sasagutin natin ang issues magiging problema pala, magiging issue pala yun. So saan ka pupunta?[Now that we went there to explain the issues, it was still a problem, it became an issue. So where will you go?],” he said.

He urged government critics to consider the benefit of the recent foreign trip despite the travel cost.

“Let us just look at this way, gumastos ka sabihin mo na 1 or 2 million but in the process you are able to prevent the funding worth 2 billion or 1 billion funding from organizations na napunta doon sa radicalization ng mga bata. Sana iyon na lang isipin ng mga bumabatikos,” he added.