OP, local gov’t bid for sustainable, regulated Romblon tourism

MANILA The Office of the President (OP), through Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, on Monday expressed full support to Romblon's bid for sustainable environmental tourism anchored on legislated measures.

Secretary Go, in behalf of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, was joined by Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, OP representatives and actor Philip Salvador at the Philippine Councilors League-Romblon (PCL-Romblon) chapter's 2nd Provincial Assembly in Mandaluyong City.

Along with the need to legislate tourism guidelines in the virgin islands, Go cited the need to ensure destinations' safety by fighting back against the threat of criminality and illegal drugs.

"Sa paglaban sa droga, mas magiging ligtas ang ating mga destinasyon para sa turismo, tulad ng Romblon (Tourist destinations such as Romblon would be a lot safer if we fight illegal drugs)," Go said in his speech.

"Kaya sa lahat ng bumubuo ng PCL-Romblon, samahan niyo po kami ni Pangulong Duterte na isulong ang mga proyekto ng gobyerno para pangalagaan ang likas na yaman at turismo. Patuloy rin nating puksain ang iligal na droga at kriminalidad sa bansa (Join us in pushing for government projects that would protect the environment and promote tourism. Let's also fight illegal drugs and criminality)," he said.

Romblon is a cluster of virgin islands home to endemic flora and fauna. In Sibuyan, its second largest island, the Mt. Guiting-Guiting stands tall, where at least 700 vascular plant species, including 54 species that can only be found in the province, are present.

Sibuyan Island has yet caught the attention of foreign and local tourists, while the mountains of Mt. Guiting-Guiting have attracted dare-devil mountaineers for years.

In general, the province is known as the "Marble Capital of the Philippines," and has been tagged by the Department of Tourism as one of the country's emerging tourist destinations. Among Romblon's hidden gems are its pristine seawaters, unspoiled beaches, wild rivers and waterfalls.

Despite potentials as another eco-tourism hub in the region, tourism efforts in the province still need a boost.

"Ang environmental code kasi ng Romblon ay wala pa (Romblon does not have an environmental code yet), we don't have any legislative measure on tourism that's why, with the influx of tourists now and the closure of Boracay, the second priority now is Romblon," Dinah Fradejas, secretary general of PCL-Romblon, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

"We need to legislate measures," she added.

Asked what support they expect from the national government, Fradejas said Romblon is optimistic about the administration's "Build, Build, Build" program.

"So far with President Duterte's 'Build, Build, Build', we're just now waiting for the implementation of projects. But for us legislators, we (either) need to be determined in seeking funds from the higher-ups, not only depending on our budget alone, or get self-reliant," she added.

Go, for his part, stressed that the administration will be full steam ahead in promoting its programs, not only on infrastructures but also on tourism.

In an interview, he reiterated that President Duterte recognizes the important role tourism plays in the country's development.

"Napaka-importante po kay President Duterte ang turismo, kaya nga kahit sa Boracay, hinihingi niya ang pag-intindi ng tao (Tourism is important to President Duterte that is why he is seeking for understanding from the public in the rehabilitation of Boracay)," he said.

The event was attended by former Ilocos Sur Governor and PCL national president Luis "Chavit" Singson and councilors from Romblon.

Like in other gatherings, Go was again teased to pursue office in the legislative but said he will leave things up to fate.

"Malayo pa masyado 'yon (The elections is still a long time from now)," he said, referring to the 2019 elections. "Hingi ko lang ang pag-intindi niyo, konting panahon lang po, tutal darating po 'yan kung gusto talaga ng Panginoon (I ask for your understanding, it will eventually come, if it's God's will)."

Go, who reintroduced the administration's core visions to Romblon legislators, graced the PCL assembly after a meeting in MalacaAang, an OP staff said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency