By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday assured foreign visitors that the Philippines remains safe to tourists as coordination continues between the agency and local law enforcement offices.
The assurance was made following the reported kidnapping cases in the country mostly involving Chinese nationals involved in POGO or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators.
“Very much (safe). We will not promote a place where we know it’s not safe. Why? If something happens to even a single tourist, it destroys the whole Philippines. Hindi naman kasi nila nakikita, kunwari may nangyayari dito, akala nila buong Pilipinas na ‘yon (Some don’t see the whole picture, for example, something happened in one place, they conclude its the whole Philippines),” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told reporters during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum in Malate.
She said securing the safety and welfare of visiting foreigners in the country is at the top priority of relevant offices.
“We’re not only in touch with the PNP (Philippine National Police) but also the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the local government units. It is to our advantage to make sure that the tourists are safe so that when they come to a particular destination, they’re assured nothing bad will happen to them, that they are safe and secure,” she added.
Romulo-Puyat added that the DOT has renewed its agreement with the PNP in adding tourist cops to be stationed in major travel destinations across the country.
On Monday night, a video showing a woman being dragged into a vehicle on Paseo de Roxas has gone viral on social media. The Makati City Police Office is investigating the incident but hinted that the alleged kidnappers maybe Chinese nationals.
From January to November this year, the PNP reported that a total of 43 kidnapping cases related to casino-debt of POGO has been recorded. The majority of the involved, both suspects and victims, were identified as Chinese nationals.
“I’m very confident when it comes to the Department of the Interior and Local Government and PNP, police matters are with them. We always assure that our tourist cops in tourist destinations are there,” Romulo-Puyat said.
The latest data from the DOT showed that tourists from China in the first 10 months of 2019 have reached 1,499,524, making Chinese tourists the second top market of the country in terms of travel. (PNA)