The decision to hold the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel was defended by the Philippine embassy in Washington on Tuesday, June 19.
In a statement, the embassy said, “Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez deemed it fitting to hold the Philippine Embassy’s 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel, an elegant and historic venue in Washington, D.C.”
The event, according to the embassy, provided an opportunity to celebrate both this milestone year for the Philippines and its close friendship with the United States.
“The Philippine Embassy will continue to deepen its ties with the U.S. As a foreign mission, the Philippine Embassy does not get involved in the domestic issues of the host country,” it said.
U.S. Senator Robert “Bob” Menendez, however, questioned this and wrote a letter to Ambassador Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, requesting information for its transaction with the Trump Organization that includes detailed billing information.
“As you know, President Trump has refused to completely divest from his business interests or place them in a blind trust, which creates the potential for conflicts of interest that may lead him to put his own financial interests above those of the U.S. government and the American people,” he said.
“Our founding fathers had this concern in mind when they wrote Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, which prohibits federal officeholders from accepting emoluments from foreign states without first obtaining the affirmative consent of Congress,” he added.
Several Filipino demonstrators also criticized the event.
“It’s a very extravagant celebration, to try to curry favor with President Trump,” Malaya Movement’s Eric Lachica said.
Romualdez, for his part, responded to the backlash and insisted that the event was not extravagant.
“Extravagance is a matter of interpretation. For us this is not extravagant,” he said. “First of all, the Philippine government is not spending for this affair. This is donated by my friends, my personal friends.” (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)