Lawmaker wants accounting of APEC spending

To foster transparency and accountability in government, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero will seek an accounting of the P10 billion the government set aside for its hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings this year.

Escudero, former chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said he would ask for a breakdown of the government’s expenses for the APEC and the arrangements made with private sector partners when budget hearings resume.

“Halimbawa, gusto kong malaman kung yung mga BMWs ba or Mercedes Benz at Hi-Ace, tayo ba ang gumastos dun? Dinonate ba yun ng mga kumpanya o binenta bang segunda-manong mas mura? O magkano ba ang binigay natin sa kanila para gawin yun?” Escudero asked.

Toyota Motor Philippines pledged to provide 483 vehicles—Altis, Fortuner and Hiace—with drivers for the APEC Senior Officials’ Meetings, private sector-related meetings, and the CEO Summit. BMW provided more than 200 units of BMW 7 Series Long-Wheelbase Sedan, BMW 5 Series Sedan and Gran Turismo to be used by the ministers and heads of states during the Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Nov. 18 and 19. Mercedes Benz is also an APEC mobility partner.

“Let’s review what has been done, what was spent, and see the cost-benefit, if it’s worth it,” Escudero said at a roundtable discussion where he was asked if he thinks the benefits to be gained from hosting the trade summit was worth it.

“After the fact, that’s when we will see where the P10 billion went,” he said. “I think the government might have spent more than P10 billion but this was not all charged to the APEC expenditure.”

Escudero said there have been allocations for the APEC in the years prior to 2015, most of which went to building and fixing infrastructure in Iloilo, where meetings and dialogues between APEC member economies have been held since July.

“Bubusisiin namin kung sapat ba o hindi, kung sobra ba yung P10 billion. The answers will come after the APEC,” he said.

The senator said it would be hard to assess whether the resources spent by the Philippine government for the APEC summit would translate to economic gains. What’s obvious now is that the event is a “huge encumbrance” on ordinary Filipinos who have had to suffer through even more monstrous traffic caused by closed roads. Flights were also canceled.

Despite the inconvenience, Escudero said the Philippine government was right in not turning down the opportunity to be this year’s host.

“Dapat maintindihan ng lahat na hindi tayo nag-volunteer mag-host. Rotation ito at dumating yung turn natin sa taong ito. Hindi naman siguro dapat i-turn down ng bansa iyon,” he said.

“In any case, we should already start planning for the hosting of the next APEC meetings 18 years ahead of time in order to avoid the hassles and inconveniences that this one has caused,” the senator added./; FB: senchizescudero; Twitter: @saychiz @chiznewsalert


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