New kid on the block

He may not have the actual figures, but Marcos Jr. emphasized that official travels are important because of the business they give back.

For all that has been said about his father, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. happens to be a chip of the old block, the positive trait that is.

Call it Marcosian wit, call it whatever, but as the father thrived on the global stage, so does the son who is now considered the new kid on the global block.

The second iteration of the controversial leader brushed off criticism of his frequent travels a few months into his term, pointing out that as the new kid on the block, he wants to give world leaders a glimpse of who he is, as well as his plans and vision for the Philippines.

He pointed out that the visibility of the Philippines in the international arena would be crucial in securing investors.

Since he assumed office in June last year, Marcos has gone on eight official travels — a mix of state visits and official trips to international conferences. He was in Indonesia and Singapore for state visits in the first week of September, before flying to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The chief executive also went on a weekend trip to Singapore for the Formula One Grand Prix in October. In the face of criticism for being abroad while a typhoon was battering parts of the country, Marcos Jr. said the trip was “the best way to drum up business.”

In November, he went to Cambodia for the ASEAN Summit and then attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting held in Thailand.

He ended 2022 with a trip to Belgium for the ASEAN-European Union Commemorative Summit and started 2023 with a state visit to China.

Just last week, Marcos Jr. came back to Switzerland where he attended the World Economic Forum. He was criticized after the Philippine delegation reportedly had 70 members, prompting the public to ask, who foots the bill for these trips?

He may not have the actual figures, but Marcos Jr. emphasized that official travels are important because of the business they give back.

“(In) terms of the cost, the way I see it, you have to look at it in terms of (return of investment). Do we bring something back or do we not?” he said.

He rationalized the seemingly bloated delegation also made up of people outside his Cabinet by saying that his entourage included members of the private sector, most of whom spend their own money on their travels.

“There’s accountability and transparency in everything that we do,” he pointed out.

“The critics will have their say but those who are actually contemplating putting good money into the Philippines have other issues, and accountability and transparency are not an issue,” he explained to a panel of news anchors following his return from the Davos World Economic Forum.

During that interview, Marcos Jr. gamely answered all issues raised against his administration, including the question of whether he is grooming his son, Sandro, for a future position in government.

His answer: “We’re not grooming him for anything. He was part of the entourage because he is one of the authors of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill now pending in Congress.”

Criticized during the campaign for skipping most presidential debates, Marcos Jr. looks like he is turning the tables on his bashers. The last panel interview showed a different side of him — more confident and not exactly the weak leader that he has been pictured to be.

Like father, like son? Give it to the new kid on the block.

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