Questions on transparency as Palace breaks silence on Marcos’ Singapore trip during F1 weekend

October 3, 2022 - 4:45 PM
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In this photo, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr meet with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. (Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook, MCI Photos by Terence Tan)

Questions about transparency arose after the Palace addressed the chief executive’s unannounced trip to Singapore over the weekend that coincided with an international racing in the city-state.

The day after the racing event, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles released a short statement where she said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr‘s visit was “productive.”

According to Cruz-Angeles, Marcos’ visit strengthened his initial talks with Singapore last month, when he went on an expected state visit.

“Pinagpatibay niya ang mga pangunahing usapan sa huling state visit sa bayan na ito, at pinatuloy ang paghihikayat sa pag-invest sa bayang Pilipinas,” she wrote.

Marcos previously went on an announced visit to Singapore on September 6 to 7 to “strengthen economic and bilateral ties” and meet with Filipino communities.

Cruz-Angeles also shared a Facebook post by Tan See Leng, Singapore’s minister for manpower, who congratulated the winner of the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix and then mentioned seeing “various heads of states.”

Tan in his post said he was “happy” to have met them, tagging the Facebook pages of Marcos and Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr.

The Singapore official also mentioned seeing Keo Rottanak, Cambodia’s Minister attached to the Prime Minister and managing director of Electricite Du Cambodge; and Pan Sorasak, Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce.

Tan likewise said he met with Dr. Fahad bin Abdullah Toonsi, adviser to the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also shared a photo collage on his Facebook page which included Marcos and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos.

“Happy to link up again with friends from both here and abroad. They were excited to be here, to watch the race and enjoy the good company,” Lee said, crediting the photos to Terence Tan.

“I’m glad to see spectators from all around the world visiting Singapore just to attend it. It is yet another sign that we have emerged from the pandemic and are open for business,” Lee said in his overall Facebook post.

The Singapore Grand Prix, part of the Formula One World Championships, was put on hold for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city-state has since eased its COVID-related restrictions and allowed visitors from other territories.

Race tickets cost from SG$98 (P4,024) to nearly SG$10,000 (P410,629).

Meanwhile, the Palace’s response to Marcos’ trip raised questions from some Filipinos who perceived it to “lack transparency.”

“Note ‘unannounced’ — another example of non-transparent leadership. Unless kasi party na naman,” a Twitter user said, responding to a news report which described the president’s trip. as “unannounced.”

“Ah ganoon ba? Eh bakit kailangan kasama pa ang anak?” another online user asked after reading Cruz-Angeles’ post.

Pictures uploaded by the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix included presidential son, Rep. Sandro Marcos (Ilocos Norte, First District), and actress Alexa Miro.

Separate pictures from TV5 correspondent Gretchen Ho also showed presidential cousin House Speaker Martin Romualdez (Leyte, First District) on the sidelines of the major racing event.

“He just went from SG visit last month… (thinking face emojis) again, ano role ng mga kasama niya. Gastos ba ng PH gov’t?” another Twitter user said, referring to the presence of the younger Marcos and Romualdez at the event.

A different Filipino wondered whether “public funds” were used for the trip following the Palace’s comment that the president had “strengthened” his initial bilateral talks with the city-state.

“Does this also confirm that public funds were used for this trip?” she tweeted.

Physician Tony Leachon, former special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, also shared some questions on his account.

“A supporter said: Billionaires and investors watch F1 races; the best time to ask them for investments is when they’re watching expensive car races,” he tweeted.

“Q [Question]: Where’s the economic team to take down notes and pledges? Q: Why no formal send-off from the airport? The pics saw him enjoying!” Leachon added.

Official visits of the president to other countries are usually announced to the public beforehand to inform them of the agenda and what the leader hopes to accomplish.

Marcos Jr. also delivers departure speeches at times. There are also instances when a send-off ceremony would be arranged for him at the airport.

Meanwhile, others hoped that the president’s weekend trip to Singapore would translate into further investments for the country.

“It will be productive kapag naging pera ‘yung visit. We should expect investment. Let’s see,” a Facebook user wrote.

RELATED: Spotted: Philippine Air Force’s Gulfstream G280 flew to Singapore during F1 weekend