MANILA, Philippines—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s last foreign trip, which took her to Switzerland, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United States over eight days, cost taxpayers P123 million, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.
But Ermita said the bill was “worth it” since the President secured “pledges” for multi-million dollar investments, including $200 million for agriculture from Saudi Arabia, $300 million for agriculture and between $350-$400 million for a Makati City hotel from Bahrain, and $1.2 billion for textile exports to the US.
“How much is the trip? If I’m not mistaken, P123 million,” Ermita told reporters at the Palace.
“It’s worth it. Can you imagine if the P1.2-billion [in] exports pushes through?” he added.
Arroyo was criticized for making a side-trip to Washington to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, in what her critics called was an attempt to secure a meeting with US President Barack Obama.
Obama did not meet with Arroyo, who instead, met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and a group of Senators to press for the passage of a bill that will increase the benefits of Filipino World War II veterans.
Ermita said 61 people were on the President’s official party, excluding security personnel, of which, only 20 went with her to Washington from Manama, Bahrain.