FOREIGN Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the government saved money when he stayed in the United States for more than a month.
Cayetano also defended the bloggers who joined the government’s official delegation, when he recently spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“It was planned that way,” Cayetano told the Manila Standard in a chance interview at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig on Wednesday.
While Cayetano admitted that public funds were used for his official”trip, he said that this was more practical than having his trips separated.
“There was a budget. It was more economical than going back and fourth in the country for four times,” he said.
Cayetano, left the country early last month to attend the 72nd regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that convened on Sept. 12 to 19.
Cayetano’s last official engagement in the United States was when he attended the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington D.C. on Oct. 12 to 13.
At the UN, Cayetano said the government’s war against drugs is a “necessary instrument” to preserve and protect human rights, and not to violate them.
He also signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is the first legally binding international agreement to completely eliminate nuclear weapons.
While in the US, Cayetano was seen through his Facebook account attending several UN-related meetings and events with the Filipino-Amercians, and giving media interviews, the latest of which was that exclusive interview with Al Jazeera’s UpFront where he defended the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
In a separate interview, Cayetano said that the bloggers, who flew to the UN using taxpayers’ money were the ones covering him as he defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug campaign.
“Why were the bloggers part of the official delegation?” a reporter asked Cayetano at the sidelines of an Asean event in Pasay.
Cayetano shot back at reporters, “I think the bigger question is, why weren’t you guys with me? It was a major policy speech.”
“If there were no bloggers, how would our speech be covered?”
“There were more personal blogs because they’re more exciting and engaging. If everyone’s from the government website, it will be bland,” he said.
As part of the delegation, Cayetano disclosed their airfare and living expenses were shouldered by the government, but only as much as the daily stipend prescribed by the rules.
Cayetano claimed that bloggers and social media influencers were “more effective platforms than the government’s internal teams.”
“We want to bring international relations and the Asean closer to the people,” he said.