Senator Raffy Tulfo has confronted Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga on her frequent foreign trips and its relevance to the public.
Tulfo said he had received complaints from DENR employees that Loyzaga is a jetsetter and can be seldom seen in the office.
Through Senator Cynthia Villar, who defended the proposed DENR budget for 2024 as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Tulfo inquired how the P1.1 billion budget allocated in 2023 for the Office of the Secretary was spent and the results of her several trips abroad.
The budget allocation for Loyzaga’s Office next year was raised to P1.173 billion.
“This year alone or starting when she was appointed, her foreign trips reached 13 to 14 times,” Tulfo noted.
“Although most of the travels were official, then if it were official , what were these trips?” Tulfo inquired.
But the DENR Secretary through Villar debunked the 13 or 14 trips abroad, insisting some of them were personal trips for which she spent her own money.
Loyzaga has maintained she had only five trips abroad and these were all ministerial and necessary.
Reacting to Loyzaga’s denial, Tulfo challenged the Senate panel to put the Secretary under oath to affirm her statements.
“Can we put her (DENR secretary) under oath if she says five?” Tulfo asked.
The senator said he was in possession of all the pertinent documents to substantiate his allegations about Loyzaga’s multiple trips overseas.
He also pointed out that in all travels, she used her diplomatic passport.
Taking the cudgels for Loyzaga, Villar said the five trips, all officials, were for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN framework on Climate Change, UN biodiversity conference in Montreal, Canada and then UN Water in New York, UN Sustainable Development also in New York, Sendai Framework UN in New York and Japan and Washington DC.
In further grilling Loyzaga, Tulfo also pressed if her trips to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Egypt were personal or official because she used her diplomatic passport.
When Villar replied that the Abu Dhabi trip was just recent and the Dubai has yet to be done, Tulfo dared anew to put the DENR secretary under oath.
“Please don’t lie,” Tulfo told Loyzaga as he appealed to her to delegate some foreign trips to her people so the DENR people can access her.
Villar maintained her defense for Loyzaga, saying she was with her in some environment-related events.