With president-elect Rodrigo Duterte taking office today, it comes to mind that he previously promised that his administration would practice austerity. He has also stated that his first 180 days implementing major changes to many areas that have been deemed in need of urgent improvement.
One of these changes – and in keeping with his plan to have his cabinet practice austerity, he plans on removing luxury cars from the vehicle pool of the government’s offices and replacing them with other SUVs instead.
While Duterte will have access to a Mercedez-Benz, it’s specified as a state vehicle and is bullet-proofed as part of the president’s security detail.
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Luxury in the Government
The news of this particular change came from one of Duterte’s top aides, Christopher Lawrence Go, who expressed that the president plans to stop the use of luxury vehicles for official use. He said that the president plans to have officials use large-load vehicles such as the Avanza or the Crosswind.
The use of luxury vehicles as official transport for officials has long been a point of contention for the government, with allegations of corruption and misuse of public funds to purchase luxury cars to add to personal collections.
One of the more famous allegations coming out of now-former president Benigno Aquino III’s purchase of a Porsche, which caused a lot of backlash, in spite of the fact that it was a personal buy. Many other politicians have also faced criticism because of their use of luxury vehicles.
During his tenure as mayor of Davao, Duterte’s practice of using less ostentatious cars as official government transportation has already been noted. Most of the cars present in the motor pool were SUVs that cost less and were more fuel-efficient.
He also once proposed having his state vehicle switched from the current Mercedez-Benz to a pickup truck, stating that he’s more used to it and even drives himself from time to time. He also stated that he’d prefer if his cabinet used the Toyota Avanza as it’s a cheaper and more cost-effective option as opposed to a Hummer.
As president, Duterte has advocated for simplicity and frugality in the way he does things. Among these things are the directives he gave to his appointees, as reported in an interview. He will have them forego using business class tickets when traveling abroad in an official capacity, or using public funds for junkets.
Another example is his deviation from tradition, and having his oath-taking at Malacañang instead of Quirino Grandstand, and limiting attendance.
With Duterte at the country’s helm, much of the country is waiting with bated breath to see if he does pull through on his policies. But as far as his want for his office and the people working with him to keep to a less extravagant lifestyle, many officials are keen to follow.
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