Newly-appointed Executive Secretary (ES) Lucas Bersamin on Tuesday (October 4) shrugged off criticisms against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent trip to Singapore to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix, saying he was entitled to his private time.
He also said that questioning the funds used for Marcos’s trip was “irrelevant” as he was still doing his presidential mandate.
“Wala kaming direct knowledge kung paano ang funding niyan (We do not have direct knowledge on where the funding of the trip came from) but I am sure if that was the trip of the president, you do not need to be too particular about where the funds were sourced kasi (because) he was still performing his job as president when he was abroad although that is not an official state visit,” he said.
“Now, whether it was a fully paid trip or not is irrelevant,” Bersamin added.
The Palace initially kept mum about the trip until pictures from Singaporean officials surfaced on social media that the Office of the Press Secretary released a brief statement calling the visit a “productive” one.
Marcos’s delegation consisted of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Sandro Marcos, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, and his wife Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez.
The former Supreme Court chief justice-turned ES said that the welfare of the First Family is of utmost concern, so asking whether public or private funds were used during the trip is immaterial.
“If public funds were spent, walang problema diyan (there’s no problem there) because that was also a trip undertaken for the interest of the Philippines,” he said.
“Do not be too rigid in thinking na hindi mo dapat gastusan ng taxes kung ginamit (taxes shouldn’t be used). You have the obligation to secure, to ensure that the President travels safely. Whose obligation is that? The government, he added.
But when asked what the positive benefits of the trip are for the Philippines, Bersamin said it’s too early to tell.
“We cannot be defensive about it. I am not going to be defensive about it. I would even dismiss yung criticism. Yun ang insensitive (That’s what’s insensitive). You are entitled to your own private time, private moments. If you love to do something, you should not be moved or impacted by others who may not agree with you,” he said.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.
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