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Junket Fever, editorial, July 24, 1954

Junket fever
July 24, 1954

MANY people are beginning to note with alarm the increasing frequency of so-called “official trips” by high-ranking officials. If these traveling worthies spent their own funds and not the taxpayers’ money, nobody protest. The trouble, however, is that often their gallivanting in foreign countries is at the taxpayers’ cost.

Particularly exasperating is it when they take along with them on “official trips” members of their families. And there have been, as everyone knows, a number of such instances.

Since the present administration took over, certain provincial governors, congressmen and senators—not to mention private individuals in the good graces of the powers that be—have gone abroad. In the case of a couple of governors, the public is still in the dark as to what they accomplished during their recent trip to Japan. As regards the lawmakers, Representative Diosdado Macapagal is authority for this statement (during the regular session): “12 days were declared as a recess. . . during which the House leaders went on a junket to Hong Kong. . . .They could not wait for the session to end to have their junket. What was worse was that they announced that they went to Hong Kong at their own expense when the records of the House show that their 12-day vacation was at the expense of the people.”

The Pampanga congressman went on to say that “whereas the past administration—during the Japanese peace conference in San Francisco, where the Philippines had a vital stake because of the reparations issues—the Philippine delegation consisted only of seven persons, in the recent Geneva Conference where we have no voice, the government sent a delegation of 17 members! The delegates, according to a Manila editor who covered the conference, spent most of their time sightseeing in Paris and other nearby tourist attractions at public expense because they had nothing to do in Geneva!”

There is a plan afoot to send a delegation to the United States to work for revision of the Bell Trade Act. Composed of senators and congressmen and “an unlimited number of technical assistants,” the entourage will be provided with funds amounting to no less than half a million pesos. In this case, of course, the amount is negligible, IF the delegation brings home the bacon.

But so far as the Filipino people know, most of the junketeers are empty-handed upon their return except for so-called reports which nobody cares to listen to. They also bring home vouchers and fat expense accounts. And, of course, luxury goods from the capitals of Europe, America, and Asia.