Former President Fidel V. Ramos has slammed the presence of several government officials in President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit to Russia, calling the trip a “junket.”
Ramos said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and other high-ranking government officials should have stayed in the country instead of joining Duterte’s official delegation.
Among the government officials whose presence in Russia Ramos questioned was Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
“In the first place, some people should have stayed behind to take care of the situation with the President,” he said in a press conference Friday (May 26).
“[But] the Executive Secretary and so many secretaries and so many generals [joined] the junket,” he said. “Pardon me for calling it a junket because it now turns out that it was a junket.”
Sixteen of Duterte’s 23 Cabinet Secretaries flew with him to Russia.
The President, however, had to cut his trip to Russia short amid the ongoing clash between the rebel Maute group and government forces in Marawi City. The fight led him to declare martial law in Mindanao.
Medialdea’s absence prompted Duterte to designate Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno as head of the caretaker committee that will oversee the executive branch’s operations while he was away.
In previous administrations, it was the Executive Secretary who served as caretaker of the executive branch whenever the President was abroad.
Other government officials who were part of the President’s delegation are Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, 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 Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., presidential assistant Christopher Go and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.