Palace defends PGMA's foreign trips
Manila (3 November) -- Anything but a picnic.
This was Malacañang's reaction to criticisms of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's foreign trips.
In an interview over the Radyo ng Bayan program "Pilipinas, Pilipinas!", Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that the President's schedule while abroad is always packed with important meetings with foreign leaders, prospective investors and members of Filipino communities.
"Alam mo, ang biyahe ng Pangulo, lahat yan ay hindi picnic (or) holiday trips," said Dureza, who has accompanied the President in most of her trips here and abroad since he assumed the post of press secretary this year.
"Whether local or international (trips), masyadong hectic ang schedule ng Presidente," he said.
Dureza added that the President always follows a punishing schedule in and out of Malacanang, she has very "little time to rest."
The media delegation and business contingent who accompanies the President on her trips find it difficult keeping in step with her hectic schedule.
"Yung business sector (members) na kausap natin last time (during the President's visit to China to attend the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Beijing), ayaw nang sumama sa (ibang) biyahe ng Pangulo," Dureza said.
"Napakahirap ng schedule (ng Pangulo) but she has to attend to international commitments, an example of which is the call by the Saudi government for a meeting in the United States this November," Dureza said.
Aside from the meeting with Saudi officials, the President is also scheduled to attend the Global Summit with US President George W. Bush, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru and the 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Thailand next month.
Dureza said the benefits to the country of the President's foreign trips may not be immediate, but surely they will be felt in the years head.
"Karamihan ng effect nito will come beyond the term of the President. Yung mga initiative niya to earn goodwill for the Philippines in the international circle…many of these benefits will come beyond 2010," Dureza said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]