House sets hearing on impact of COVID-19 on PH tourism

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020   •   177

The House of Representatives will have a joint hearing on the impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 on Philippine tourism and travel industry.

The House Committee on Economic Affairs and the House Committee on Tourism will have a joint hearing on Wednesday (February 12) to get the views and perspectives of government officials and tourism stakeholders from the private sector on the issue.

According to Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) President Cesar Cruz about 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have been canceled as a result of the imposition of travel ban to and from China.

Philtoa estimates that the tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion so far.

Meanwhile, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) had a preliminary estimate that the economy might lose up to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or about P133 billion if the virus continues to spread.

House Speaker Alan Cayetano earlier expressed the need to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed as a result of the travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 threat.—AAC

House passes bill seeking stiffer penalties vs child abusers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to impose stiffer penalties against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.

With 228 affirmative and zero negative votes, the Lower Chamber on Monday passed the House Bill No. 137 or the proposed “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

The bill, which would amend parts of the Republic Act No. 7610, aims to deter exploitation and further promote the best interest of the child.

The measure proposes penalties for the following unlawful acts done against children:

  • Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in obscene publications and indecent shows shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period, and reclusion temporal in its maximum period if the said person is an ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child. If the child is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be Reclusion Perpetua in its maximum period.
  • Imprisonment of six months to a minimum of one year to six years or a fine between P100,000.00 to P300,000.00 for child labor practices.
  • Section 12 of R.A. No. 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012,” which provides for the penalties and sanctions for trafficked persons, shall now be imposed on the employment of trafficked children.
  • Discrimination of children from indigenous cultural communities shall now have a penalty of prison correctional in its medium period. A fine between P50,000.00 and P100,000.00 shall also be imposed.
  • The offender shall undergo a re-education and reorientation program on the Indigenous Peoples culture of the Philippines to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights.

Under the bill, the penalties for other acts of abuse, cruelty, or exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development shall also be raised.

The approved measure is a consolidation of six bills.

The Senate version of the bill remains pending at the committee level.

Duterte to visit tourist sites to boost tourism amid COVID-19 threat

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte prepares to board a helicopter after gracing the inauguration of the Sangley Airport Development Project in Cavite City on February 15, 2020. ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte will visit popular tourist sites in the Philippines to promote local tourism amid the COVID-19 threat.

READ: It’s more fun in the Philippines: Duterte invites Filipinos to visit local tourism sites amid Covid-19 fears

The President may travel to Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol to attract more visitors and potentially make up for the losses of the current travel ban in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

“He’s a magnet. His presence attracts people from attending an event,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Usec. Art Boncato said they will schedule a trip as soon as possible.

“We’re of course lining up destinations like Boracay, Cebu for instance even Bohol, as the initial list of destinations for the president most probably visit within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

READ: Duterte asks local carriers, hotels to help boost PH tourism amid COVID-19 threat

Tourism industry stakeholders agreed to help boost domestic travel by offering discounted airfare and hotel rates following a meeting with President Duterte.

“Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Pasyal tayo dito sa atin. Unahin natin ‘yung atin. Mabuhay ang Pilipino. Mabuhay ang turismo ng Pilipinas,” Duterte said on his video message.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

House: PH tourism can recover from COVID-19 scare

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 14, 2020

BORACAY

The House of Representatives is confident that Philippine tourism will recover from the COVID-19 threat.

Tourism vice chair and 1st District, Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto said that the tourism sector has remained resilient even during disasters.

“We have been very resilient in the tourism sector even if we are threatened by disasters or threats like this. The tendency of the industry is really to rebound. It grows back. After this crisis, we will be able to bounce back,” he said.

READ: NAIA passenger volume drops by 60% after travel ban

The Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) previously estimated that the tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion so far since the travel ban due to COVID-19. About 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have already been canceled.

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism reassured the public that efforts are being undertaken by the Department to soften the impact.

“The DOT and the private tourism sector, represented by the major airlines, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, and the Philippine Hotel Owners Association, met with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss their plans to roll-out more value-added packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked-down prices for domestic flights,” according to the House’s statement.—AAC

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