By Filane Mikee Cervantes

OFF TO WORK. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos wave to well-wishers at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on March 11, 2024. The President held a working trip to Germany until March 13 and proceeded to a state visit to the Czech Republic from March 14 and 15 upon the invitation of his counterparts. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – Lawmakers on Thursday defended President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s travels abroad, saying the Philippine leader is diligently fulfilling his duties to the nation by strengthening diplomatic ties and attracting foreign investments.

In a press conference, Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Ray Reyes said President Marcos is the country’s “chief salesman,” which is a pivotal role he plays as the Philippine representative on the global stage.

Reyes said Marcos’s foreign trips demonstrate the country’s readiness to engage and coordinate with neighboring nations, extending even to countries as distant as Germany.

“Our President serves as our chief salesman. He is the face of the country and should demonstrate that we are ready to engage and coordinate with [other] countries,” Reyes said.

Reyes stressed the need to support the President by ensuring that the country’s infrastructure and legislation align effectively with his representation of the Philippines.

“We support him to ensure that our product, which is the Philippines, is presented in the best possible light,” he said.

He pointed out the warm receptions received by the Chief Executive during his trips abroad, noting the positive impact of these engagements on enhancing international relations.

“In all the trips that our beloved President embarks on, there is always a warm reception not only from the Filipino community there but also from their dignitaries and counterpart government officials,” Reyes said.

House Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin, for her part, said globalization is the driving force behind such foreign visits, explaining that engagement with other nations is not merely a desire but a pressing necessity in an interconnected world.

“If you don’t liaise and talk to other countries, if you don’t partner and foster relationship with other countries, mas lalo kang maiiwan (we will be left behind),” Garin said.

Garin underscored the importance of prioritizing the nation’s welfare above political discourse in reaction to the comment made by former President Rodrigo Duterte questioning President Marcos’ foreign trips.

“I believe maybe it was a joke out of the former President’s mouth or if he was serious maybe it’s a political statement. I think politics should be left behind for the moment,” Garin said,

Garin urged for a balanced perspective, acknowledging the challenges faced by those in leadership roles and the demanding nature of incumbency, where officials are constantly navigating a multitude of responsibilities.

“Madali lang kasi magbintang at mahirap na palaging sumasagot ‘yung nakasabak sa trabaho (It’s easy to blame and it’s difficult to always answer when you have responsibilities),” Garin said.

Marcos, currently on a two-country swing in Central Europe, pointed to his compressed schedule consisting of official functions such as meetings with his counterparts and foreign business leaders when asked about allegations that he is just sightseeing or “making pasyal” in his trips abroad.

“Ito ‘yung schedule ko. San ‘yung pasyal? (This is my schedule. Where is the sightseeing there?) This is my schedule for today,” President Marcos told reporters Wednesday concerning his schedule on his trip to Germany.

During his working visit to Germany, Marcos secured at least USD4 billion or PHP220 billion worth of investment deals.

His recent trips to Australia also yielded USD53 billion, or PHP86 billion worth of investments, covering diverse sectors such as renewable energy, clean technology, recycling solutions, housing, IT-BPM infrastructure, medical devices, and digital health services. (PNA)