House: No public funds for Arjo Atayde, Maine Mendoza’s Europe trip
Updated 2:00 P.M., 6:20 P.M.
Public funds will not be spent for the upcoming trip to Europe of Quezon City Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde, a House official said on Wednesday.
In a message to Inquirer, House secretary general Reginald Velasco confirmed that a travel authority was issued to Atayde for his official travel to Switzerland, Italy and Greece, but said the newly-wed solon will foot the bill.
“No government funds will be spent as he will finance his trip,” Velasco said in a message to the Inquirer.
“The House of Representatives (HOR) on August 2 confirmed that Quezon City 1st District Rep. Juan Carlos ‘Arjo’ Atayde has been issued an official travel authority (TA) that allows him to travel to Switzerland, Italy, and Greece from August 5 to 27, the cost of which will not be shouldered by the government,” a separate statement sent by Velasco to reporters read.
“Issued on July 10, Travel Authority No. IPRS-0723-PT2495 — addressed to Rep. Atayde and signed by House Secretary General Reginald Velasco on behalf of the House Speaker — states that the lawmaker has been authorized from August 5 to 27 to travel to Switzerland to represent the Philippines in “the screening of the movie Topakk during the 2023 Locarno International Film Festival in your capacity as Vice Chairperson of the the Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts,” the TA further stated.
In a separate message, Velasco sent a copy of the travel authority issued to Atayde dated July 10, allowing him to go on an “official travel” to the three countries mentioned.
His trip is by authority of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. The travel authority is the same document provided by a source to INQUIRER.net, which became the basis for its story.
Meanwhile, another document sent by the House Secretary General showed a certification, this time dated August 2, that Atayde indeed did not request for funding for his official trip.
“Hon. Atayde did not request for any funding from the House of Representatives and said travel will be at his own expense,” Velasco said.
The House secretary general signs the travel authority for congressmen and House employees for their local and overseas travel, may it be in an official or personal capacity.
A travel authority for an official trip will mean that a House member will be marked present when the lower chamber is in session.
Atayde is one of the chairpersons of the special panel, which is headed by Pangasinan 4th District Rep. Christopher De Venecia. Aside from Atayde, other vice chairpersons include Bohol 2nd District Rep. Maria Vanessa Aumentado, Leyte 4th District Rep. Richard Gomez, and Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Francisco Benitez.
According to the House, the special committee is tasked to tackle “all matters directly and principally relating to industries generated by individual creativity, skill and talent that produce cultural, artistic and innovative products such as but not limited to design, music, book publishing, architecture, interior design, gastronomy, film and video, crafts, visual arts, fashion, furniture, TV and radio, advertising, literature, print and digital media, software and game development, animation, live events and the performing arts.”
Based on the TA mentioned by the House official, Atayde was given authority to attend the 76th Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland after “Topakk,” a film he starred in and was directed by Richard Somes, was recognized. He will then visit Filipino communities in Italy and Greece.
Velasco’s statement is congruent to earlier INQUIRER.net reports of the newlyweds’ “official” travel to these three European countries.
Atayde and his wife Maine Mendoza earlier took exceptions to the INQUIRER.net report which stated that their 22-day trip to Switzerland, Italy and Greece has been labeled “official” per a press release released by his office, and a separate document obtained from a highly-placed source.
On social media, Mendoza labeled the report to be inaccurate as it supposedly “insinuates that this trip is at government expense.”
Nowhere in the first article of INQUIRER.net, nor in the follow-up story, was it mentioned that government money was involved in their travel. EDV