Marcos Jr. administration

Malacañang justifies 1,095% increase in 2022 travel expenses

Bea Cupin

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Malacañang justifies 1,095% increase in 2022 travel expenses

TRAVEL. In this file photo, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. arrives in Malaysia for a state visit, on July 25, 2023.


The Palace argues expenses are higher because travel restrictions no longer exist, travel results in investment pledges, and the Marcos admin wants better ties abroad

MANILA, Philippines – The year 2022 – split between former president Rodrigo Duterte and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – resulted in a 1,095% increase in travel expenses of the Office of the President, the Commission on Audit (COA)’s report for that year showed.

The COA audit report said Malacañang spent over P403 million on domestic and international travel in 2022, compared to the P36.8 million consumed in 2021, or Duterte’s last full year in office.

Marcos traveled all over the world in his first six months of office – to Indonesia and Singapore for his first state visits, to New York for the United Nations General Assembly General Debate, Cambodia and Thailand for regional summits, then to Belgium for another summit.

Between New York and Cambodia, Marcos also flew to Singapore. That trip, however, was not announced by the Palace prior.

The COA noted the “significant increase” in foreign travel expenses was due to Marcos’ visits to these countries.

Of the P403 million used in 2022, P392.3 million was spent on international travel.

Comparatively, when travel restrictions due to COVID-19 were still plenty in 2021, the Office of the President only spent P25.2 million on international travel.

There was only a slight increase in local travel expenses in 2022 – again, a year split between Marcos and Duterte. A total of P10.78 million was consumed on domestic travel in 2021, while P11.5 million was spent on 2022.

Travel expenses cover transportation, travel per diem, ferriage, passport and visa processing, and other related expenses to the trip.

Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil attributed the rise in spending to both the 2021 lockdown and the “opening of the economy and lifting of restrictions in 2022.”

Local travel, Garafil said, was because Marcos needed to go around the country to “ensure that various programs, projects and assistance of the government reach its intended beneficiaries as part of the post-COVID recovery efforts.” She also said that “directly connecting with the local governments, local communities and sectoral groups” was key in the President’s work.

Malacañang said there was an increase in the expenses on foreign trips of Marcos because his office “received a huge volume of invitations for international events, conferences, high-level meetings, and state visits, among others, and the OP has acceded to some of these requests, knowing that the country and the public, in general, will benefit immensely from the President’s participation in these engagements.”

Even before the COA audit report was released, Marcos has been criticized for his frequent travels.

Mid-way into 2023, Marcos’ jet-setting ways have not eased. Thus far, he’s been to China for a state visit, Japan for an official visit, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, the US for another official visit, the United Kingdom for the coronation of King Charles III, Indonesia for a summit, and Malaysia for a state visit.

He is expected to attend several more forums and high-level meetings before the year ends – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Indonesia, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in the US.

Marcos has justified these trips by telling critics to focus on the supposed returns on investment. Yet, thus far, the administration has only been able to present total pledges, and not finalized investments in the Philippines.

“We also hope to elevate our position in the international community through stronger bilateral ties and improved relations with multilateral or international organizations,” said Garafil. –

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  1. ET

    No matter what, President International “Bleisure” Traveler Ferdinand “Magellan” Marcos Jr. will always get his way. This is true even if “the administration has only been able to present total pledges, and not finalized investments in the Philippines.” Go, Ferdie Jr., Go. Bring the whole “Marcos family, relatives and barangay” with you.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.