Presidential Junkets

September 21, 2014

Presidential Junket

By Arturo P. Garcia

It seems customary for every president of the Philippines since Ramos to have a presidential trip abroad including Europe and of course, theUnited States during their term of office.

The usual reason given for such official trip whose expenses is paid by the people is that the President is the best salesman for the country. Especially since Ramos time, tourism and foreign investments are the top dollar earner of the country.

With no nationalist industrialization and no industrial planning whatsoever, the Philippines unlike the BRICS that includes India.South Africa and Brazil and even the small nation-states like Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea that had a self-reliant economy. The Philippines rely on foreign investments, loans and exports to capitalist countries
at bargain prices.

The Philippines used to be the second strongest economy after Japan in the 1960’s. But with the advent of Marcos and his dictatorship, the Philippines since 1986 has been the breadbasket of Asia, 2nd only to Bangladesh at the bottom of the heap.

Thus, its has been customary for every President since General Fidel Ramos since 1992 to sell the Philippines to foreign investors, ask for loans and entice foreign investors to invest their money in the Philippines. And that is the reason why President BS Aquino III is on a presidential junket on the last leg of his presidency.

While in Spain he reasoned out that “the horrendous traffic’ in the Philippines is a sign of progress. And the former masters of the colonial Philippines applauded the fact.

As always, the presidential junket will make the United States as an itinerary on the President’s trip back to the Philippines. Sometimes it can be an official visit to the White House, a ‘business trip” just to meet and greet the president or a side trip to speak at the United Nations in New York.

The actor, President Joseph Estrada was the only Philippine president who was not able to make a lot of presidential trip abroad. That is because he was only served two and ½ years of his term when Estrada was deposed by People’s Power Revolution or EDSA Dos in 2001.

A side story and a funny one, when he went on an official visit to the United States, the Philippine Embassy was in a quandry because he brought some of his mistress along and it created a problem to the protocol officers on how to seat them at the official reception in the White House.

President BS Aquino’s trip to the United States from September 20 to 23 is being played as a sentimental one. He will visit their exile home in Boston before he goes to New York to speak in the UN Conference in Environmental concerns. The Aquino’s spend their time with the exiled Senator Ninoy Aquino Jr in Boston from 1980 to 1983.

Ninoy Aquino was a Harvard fellow and submitted a thesis that was made as a National Security Study Directive (NSSD) by the US State Department. When his visa was revoked by then president Reagan, he was forced to go back to the Philippines. There he was assassinated in August 21, 2893.

On the other hand, President BS Aquino III visit to Europe has a real business nature. At the same time he is gathering support for the Philippine claims in the contested areas in the South China Seas he renamed West Philippines Seas.

At the same time. he is enticing investments for Mindanao and his pet project, the newly created Bangsa Moro Political Entity or the MILF controlled Bangsa Moro Autonomous Region or the former ARMM. This also his main bragging rights to all his previous trip abroad.

But like other presidents, he will be met by protest by progressive overseas Filipinos led by political dissidents based in Europe especially in the Netherlands and in the United States.

The diaspora of more than 12 million overseas Filipinos abroad has created this group that has been since a vigilant watch dogs on the political situation in the homeland.

In the United States and even in Europe, President Aquino III still enjoys support from some in the overseas Filipino community. Especially among the elite and the conservative groups, they welcome with pride and jubilation.

On the end of the spectrum, among the most progressive ones, he will be met with protest rallies and brickbats

It is fun to watch how these different groups will react once the President arrives here in the United States on the week of Sept.20 to 25, 2014.

So let the fun begin!


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