MANILA, Philippines — No $15,000 dinner. Burgers and comfort foods will be enough to sustain President Benigno S. Aquino III while he is in the United States (US), Malacañang said Tuesday.
Upon his arrival at the San Francisco International Airport at 10:43 a.m. Tuesday, Manila time, President Aquino enjoyed an In-N-Out burger in the airport's holding area, according to a tweet in the official journal of the Office of the President’s Official Gazette.
Ramon Carandang, head of Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), said this would be a familiar scene while President Aquino is in the US. Unlike his predecessors, the bachelor Chief Executive who is known for his frugality and simplicity is not fond of eating out in fancy restaurants.
His predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was heavily criticized for a reported $15,000 worth of dinner at Bobby Van's Steakhouse when she visited the US last year.
"The President doesn’t really like having fancy dinners with five star restaurants. He likes comfort foods as we said before. On some occasions, he will be hosted by certain people and they will have sit-down dinners. But if it is his personal preference, you know him, he prefers simple foods," Carandang told reporters in an interview at the Palace.
President Aquino’s P25-million budget for his US trip, which already covers airfare, hotel accommodations, meals, and transportation costs, among others, is much cheaper compared to the budget for a five-day trip of P50 million and 10-day trip budget worth P151 million by previous administrations.
The President and his 55-man official delegation aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 104 were welcomed by Consul-General Marciano Paynor Jr. and his staff.
JC Bello Ruiz, Manila Bulletin