President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 77 that bans government officials from going on lavish trips abroad.
It was signed in March 15 and was uploaded on March 21 in the government’s official website. The two-paged document contained detailed rules and regulations on traveling overseas exclusively for government personnel.
The EO bars all forms of travel junkets, including strategic planning and team building activities abroad. Foreign trips for international conferences, meetings, scholarships, fellowships, speaking engagements or receiving of awards, on the other hand, are permitted. If inexpensive or grant-funded, overseas studies and training are also allowed.
The EO also restrained employees from filing leaves before or after an official trip. Overseas travel sponsored by suppliers and contractors is also not allowed.
Further, the president hopes to minimize government spending by regulating the number of officials allowed to travel in business class. The order clearly states employees with long-haul flights are the only ones allowed to go on business class flights. Employees with four-hour flights or less will have to take the economy class.
In addition, overseas trips and allowances will have an organized approval system. Department secretaries, chairpersons and members of governing boards, CEOs of government corporations and financial institutions will have to go through the Office of the President.
Department secretaries and CEOs of government corporations, on the other hand, are tasked to regulate their own personnel. While heads of state universities and colleges should be approved by the Commission on Higher Education.
The EO also provided a fixed budget for clothing and representation for employees during their trips abroad. Cabinet members are granted $1,000 while undersecretaries are given $700.
Assistance secretaries are allowed $500 while lower ranks are granted $300. But a higher budget is granted for trips that will last more than one month and for trips that will take place during winter and autumn.
Back in 2016, Duterte already expressed his wish to stop the practice of sending government employees overseas for seminars. The president said it is impractical and a waste of funds. Duterte also pointed out that officials tend to use the money for personal leisure.