Gov’t open to releasing full list of PH delegation to Russia amid junket allegations

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This statement comes amid speculation from netizens that some government officials — and even civilians — are on a junket paid for by the government. Photo from Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte's Instagram account.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — Malacañang said it is open to releasing the list of the entire delegation that accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte on his five-day trip to Russia.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo replied yes when asked by CNN Philippines if the full list of the country’s delegation should be accessible to the public.

Panelo said the list can be requested from Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Eric Borje. The protocol office has not yet responded to CNN Philippines’ request.

This comes amid speculation from netizens that some government officials — and even civilians — are on a junket paid for by the government. Duterte had sacked many executives before for excessive travels.

Aside from 16 Cabinet members who are part of Duterte’s official delegation, an accompanying delegation is also with the President during his five-day trip. While a list of the official delegation has been released, a list of the accompanying delegation has yet to be made public.

However, some individuals have posted on social media identifying themselves as part of Duterte’s accompanying delegation. They include newly-appointed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Usec. Mocha Uson and Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone.

CNN Philippines has asked Evardone about his role in the Russia trip, but he has not yet responded. On Instagram, he posted a video where he appeared to be strolling around Moscow's Red Square and photos of him eating caviar.

Evardone thanked former House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. for the caviar. Belmonte, who no longer holds any government post, is also in Russia and appears to have boarded the same plane with Duterte and other officials.

Former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte (second from left) in this photo next to House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez. Photo from Valenzuela City 1st District Rep. Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian's Instagram account.

It is not clear whether Belmonte is part of the country’s delegation. But his daughter, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, thanked Quezon City 4th District Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay on Facebook for “spending my Dad’s birthday with him today in Russia as part of [President Rodrigo Duterte’s] official party.”

Other officials in the accompanying delegation include House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and Reps. Sheen Tan, Ria Christian Fariñas and Marlyn “Len” Alonte.

Social media posts indicate that the following government officials are also in Russia, but it is unclear whether they are part of the Philippine delegation:

- Senator Christopher “Bong” Go

- Deputy Speaker Lord Allan Velasco

- Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez

- House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez

- Taguig-Pateros 1st District Rep. Lani Cayetano

- Cavite 7th DIstrict Rep. Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla

- Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo

- Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte

- Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez

- Bohol 2nd District Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado

- Valenzuela City 1st District Rep. Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian

- Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo “Dax” Cua

- Batangas Gov. Hermilando “Dodo” Mandanas

The spouses of some government officials were also seen accompanying them in Russia.

Atty. Larry Gadon, a 2019 senatorial race loser, was also spotted in Russia, posing for photos with other government officials

Celebrities, including Philip Salvador, James Ronald Obeso of comedy duo Moymoy Palaboy, and Cesar Montano, were also seen in social media posts from officials in Russia.

Panelo said that as far as he knows, these celebrities are not paid for entertaining the Filipino community as they wait for Duterte’s arrival.

“They have been doing that during the presidential campaign. They just happen to be genuine and rabid fans of the PRRD,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, some 150 businessmen are also part of Duterte’s business delegation. Among them are Arnold Mamaclay of Rensol Recruitment and Antonio Tiu of Agrinurture Inc.

Sources said businessmen paid their own way to Russia and boarded a Qatar Airways flight to the country.

CNN Philippines’ Dessy Rae Bautista, Ina Andolong, Xave Gregorio, Xianne Arcangel, Melissa Luz Lopez and Sandra Zialcita contributed to this report.