PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has issued an executive order prohibiting “all forms” of junkets for government officials and employees, and the conduct of planning workshops and team building activities abroad.
Citing the need to update the “outdated” rates of expenses and allowances for official travels, Mr. Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 77 on March 15 which “prescribes the rules and regulations, rates of expenses and allowances for official local and foreign travel by government personnel.”
Section 19 of the EO states: “All forms of travel junkets shall be strictly prohibited. The conduct of strategic planning workshops or team building activities abroad shall not be allowed.”
“If travel circumstances, such as the nature of activity, purpose and itinerary, indicate that the trip is mainly intended for personal purposes, no part thereof shall be considered as official.”
The EO further says that taking personal leave immediately before or after an official activity is “highly discouraged.”
Also not allowed are trips funded fully or partially by suppliers or contractors with “pending requests or application or future dealing with any branch, department, bureau or office of the National Government or LGUs concerned.” The prohibition covers “invitations to travel purportedly to undertake study or assessment of the proponents’ capabilities as such contractors or suppliers.”
Foreign travel authorized under this EO refers to international conferences or meetings to which the Philippine government has commitments; scholarships, fellowships, trainings, and studies abroad which are grant-funded or undertaken at minimal cost; and invitations for speaking engagements or receiving of awards from foreign governments or institutions whether fully or partially funded by the government, upon the endorsement of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Officials traveling on the government’s dime must take economy class (but not premium economy class). But certain officials — department secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and those with equivalent ranks — may take business class for long haul flights, which are defined as flights exceeding four hours without counting lay-overs.
The Office of the President will have to approve all foreign travel by government officials and employees “regardless of the length of travels abroad and the number of delegates.”
Those who travel abroad, according to the EO, will be granted a daily subsistence allowance (DSA) based on the daily rates established by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) of the United Nations.
Pre-departure expenses not exceeding P3,500 will be allowed to cover expenses like taxi fares, passport processing, immunization and medical laboratory fees, photographs, porterage, airport terminal fees, among others.
Government officials and employees who travel abroad are also entitled to a clothing allowance if the trip will last for more than one month. They will receive $200 to $400, depending on the number of months of their trip. — Arjay L. Balinbin