Palace says Laurel either innocently speculating or misinformed amid 'reward' remarks
Malacanang denied on Wednesday the inclusion of 16 Cabinet members to President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Japan was a "reward" contrary to an earlier statement made by Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, one of the 16 executives accompanying Duterte to Tokyo, said Laurel could have been speculating or was misinformed about the attendance of most of the Cabinet officials in the Tokyo trip.
"The Palace does not share the position or remarks of Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose C. Laurel V concerning Cabinet members joining the President in this trip to Japan," he said.
He recalled Duterte prohibited the Cabinet members from campaigning for any candidate in the recent midterm elections.
"It is therefore sans logic that they can be rewarded when they were disallowed from contributing to the reason or cause of the grant of reward," he explained.
In an interview with the media on Tuesday in Tokyo, Laurel said Duterte could have allowed the other Cabinet officials to join in his trip abroad as a reward after the successful holding of the elections where most administration candidates won.
"The good Ambassador may have been either innocently speculating for lack of information or may have been misinformed of the nature of the trip of the Cabinet members. The latter's presence is necessary," he said.
He stressed Duterte needs most of his team players, "not only as a sign of respect or giving importance to our long-time ally, but we likewise see the need for a stronger cooperation between our governments.
He said this could be attained through constant dialogue by the Cabinet members with their counterparts in the Japanese government, who are, "in various ways, involved in our country's significant transactions with Japan."
He noted Tokyo is the country's second major trading partner, fourth biggest source market for Philippine tourism, has contributed to Manila's infrastructure development, and has generously assisted with the peace and development efforts in Mindanao, such as the construction of the Marawi Transcentral Roads Phases I and II.
Panelo said thousands of Filipinos in Japan, are also entitled to meet the "men and women in flesh, who lend their hand to the President in chartering the course of governance that affect their lives, as well as their loved ones, and the rest of the Filipino nation."
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, also the officer-in-charge while Dutere is on a four-day trip to Japan, expressed belief that rebuke against Laurel would be enough.
Asked if the 75-year-old envoy would be replaced, "Let's wait and see." Celerina Monte/DMS