‘UPROAR’ OVER SINGAPORE TRAVEL HOUNDS MARCOS; But it’s productive, says Palace; first 100 days gains are cited
By ALFRED GABOT
Editor in Chief
MANILA/SINGAPORE – Groups, including those in social media, have slammed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his “unannounced” trip to Singapore to watch the F1 Grand Prix in the city-state.
Criticisms about the trip continued as well in the traditional media as of press time even after Malacanang declared the trip was “productive” as Marcos was able to meet with various leaders, including another meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong whom he had met early this month, and renewed his call for investments in the Philippines.
Various leaders like Senator Robin Padilla, however, defended Marcos, claiming that he was entitled to whatever ways he want to convince businessmen to invest in Manila and securing support for the country and the Filipinos, and, to some extent, use his free time with family and relax.
Senator Padilla said the trip opened economic opportunities for the Philippines as Singapore is considered as the “center of business in the entire Southeast Asia.”
“Andyan po sa bansang Singapore ang foreign investors, pugad po ito ng mga negosyante. Ang ating mahal na Pangulo Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos ay nanliligaw sa mga ito at dapat po lamang na makita siya at makahalubilo ng mga ito upang magkaroon siya ng magandang relasyon at mas maipaliwanag ang kalagayan ng negosyo sa ating bansa,” he told reporters.
Observers said the issue was allegedly “mishandled” by the presidential drumbeaters with gaffe in their responses to questions on Marcos whereabouts while many areas in the country were suffering from the devastation triggered by typhoon Karding. This, according to critics, led to the untimely departure of Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles.
As this developed, President Marcos recited some of his accomplishments and that of his administration in the first 100 days in office, like being able to assemble the “best and brightest” officials and meeting world leaders led by US President Joseph Biden Jr. and businessmen in travels in New York, Indonesia and Singapore.
Marcos also met with Singaporean Minister for Manpower, Tan See Leng, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., and other officials from Cambodia and Saudi Arabia.
In a statement posted on Facebook before she vowed out, Press Secretary Cruz-Angeles said that Marcos’s second visit to Singapore was a “productive” one.
“Pinagtibay niya ang mga pangunahing usapan sa huling state visit sa bayan na ito, at pinatuloy ang paghihikayat sa pag invest sa bayang Pilipinas,” Angeles added.
Marcos himself declared on Facebook, his visit was “productive,” adding that Formula 1 racing was the best way to “drum up business.”
“It was fulfilling to have been invited alongside several dignitaries and to have met new business friends who showed that they are ready and willing to invest in the Philippines. Will be sharing more details on,” he added.
Singapore Minister for ManpowerTan See Leng said that he was happy to have met Marcos, and other foreign officials, at the said event as it provided an avenue for them to reaffirm and strengthen their economic relationship and bilateral relations, especially on energy cooperation and manpower policies.
“Happy to have met various Head of States, Ministers and foreign dignitaries including Bongbong Marcos … to affirm our bilateral economic relationships and strengthen collaborations in energy cooperation as well as exchange views on manpower policies on the sidelines of the race,” he wrote.
Marcos was accompanied in the trip by his cousin, House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez, and his wife, Rep. Yedda Romualdez, the First Lady Lisa Marcos, son, Rep. Sandro Marcos, Cavite Rep. Aniela Tolentino and actress Alexa Miro, among others.
Later, newly tapped Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, a retired Supreme Court Chief Justice, said that one didn’t have to be too concerned about the cost of the trip as Marcos still performed his duties as Chief Executive.
“I am sure if that was the trip of the President, you don’t need to be too particular about where the funds were sourced… He was still performing his job as President when he was abroad, although that is not an official state visit,” Bersamin said.
“He met there with many people who were very relevant to our business activities or the running of our government here. Whether it was a fully-paid trip or not is irrelevant,” he added.
Marcos critics like Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said the Singapore trip was “insensitive, unnecessary and irresponsible” of the President, considering that the Philippines was in the midst of an economic crisis and the aftermath of the fury of typhoon Karding which devastated vast farmlands, among others.