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Malacanang sees nothing wrong in giving "gift" to the retiring military and police officers by allowing them to join in President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Israel even if it would entail taxpayers' money.
Duterte, in an interview on Monday, said he would bring with him in Israel some retiring officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as his "gift to them for serving the country well."
Duterte had admitted he had second thoughts of pursuing his trip to Israel on September 2-5 due to huge expenses.
"Nothing wrong," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing on Tuesday when asked if the Palace did not see anything wrong to allow the retiring military and police officials to join the President's upcoming foreign trip.
Roque said since these military and police officials were still active, "so it would be the government who would spend for it."
Asked how the Palace would reconcile Duterte's having a second thought in going to the Middle East with his plan to bring with him the military and police executives, Roque said, "it's always cost benefit. The benefit outweighs the cost."
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a retired police chief, hit Duterte's plan to bring with him in his Middle Eastern trip retiring men in uniform.
He said that every presidential trip abroad must have a purpose better than just being a gift to anyone in government.
"The reason is plain as it is simple - government officials are always expected to serve their best," the senator said.
Rewards for the more deserving come in the form of promotions, awards, even a pat on the back, he added.
But Roque said including the outgoing military and police officials in the presidential trip was "part of gesture appreciation."
"But obviously, for security personnel, a trip to Israel would entail collaborating and mingling with security forces of Israel in order for our men in uniform form the experience of Israel particularly in the drive against extremism and terrorism," he said.
After his trip to Israel, Duterte will proceed to Jordan. Celerina Monte/DMS