House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez and other congressional leaders took a private plane to fly to Vientiane, Laos.
This is based on the Instagram post of House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas on September 5. With him were Speaker Alvarez, Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and several other government officials.
Taking a private plane seemed a contradiction to what President Rodrigo Duterte told his Cabinet members about saving on transport costs, starting with getting rid of luxury cars in favor of a Toyota Avanza, a mini multipurpose vehicle.
In an Inquirer article published on June 15, it was even Alvarez who relayed Duterte’s wishes to go for the cheapest vehicles for his official family since the President wanted to push for austerity during his administration.
“Duterte wants an Avanza because that’s the cheapest. When someone asked me what I will do, I said I will invoke separation of powers,” Alvarez said, to the laughter of editors and reporters, adding that he even wanted to drive a pickup.
A day after he was proclaimed as the winner in the May 9 elections, Duterte laid down his ground rules for his Cabinet. Duterte said he wanted his Cabinet to avoid luxury trips, extravagant dining, economy commutes, and simple meals.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said, “He said no luxury vehicles, take economy class [lfights], and don’t use government funds for junkets.”
Even Chief Legal Counsel, who was then serving in the capacity of Duterte’s spokesperson, said that he and other Cabinet members were willing to give up their luxury cars.
“We are all 100 percent agreeable with the policy of the President-elect. Even taking luxury cars – because many of us have luxury cars – but we agree. That’s just right so people can’t say anything to us,” Panelo said.
With Alvarez and the other delegates to the ASEAN Summit taking a private plane, we ask, along with that one Instagram user commenting on Fariñas’ photo, whose question went unanswered:
Is this chartered plane paid for privately? And if so, who paid for it?