September 5, 2010, 5:02pm
Manila, Philippines – Veteran lawmakers asked Sunday that Cabinet members who act like they are still “on OJT (on-the-job training)” should now resign their posts rather than wait a rejection by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Representatives Ma. Milagros Magsaysay (Lakas-Kampi, Zambales) and Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela Party-list) said effectively addressing the economic setbacks triggered by the August 23 hostage crisis should serve as a gauge in determining who among the department heads should pass the CA’s scrutiny.
The two solons singled out Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, saying they were unhappy with his slowfooted approach in solving the adverse impact of the incident on the tourism industry.
Describing Lim’s style of addressing the problem as an “OJT approach,” Magsaysay said the Department of Tourism (DoT) should have immediately mobilized the tourism promotion board to mitigate the ill-effects of the killing of eight Hong Kong tourists in the Quirino Grandstand hostage standoff.
A member of the House opposition, Magsaysay said Lim should have swiftly asked operators of resorts and hotels to extend special privileges like discounts to tourists.
Both lawmakers prodded Lim to tap the resources of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), which was formed primarily to implement programs and coordinate policies with the DoT.
TIEZA replaced the defunct Philippine Tourism Authority and is tasked to develop, manage and supervise tourism infrastructure projects in the country.
“The DoT secretary should act promptly in addressing the problem. We want somebody with a pro-active attitude to parry the punches,” said Magsaysay.
Ilagan, on the other hand, lamented that Lim failed to activate the tourism promotion board to plan out tactics of promoting tourism.
Meanwhile, Marikina City Rep. Marcelino Teodoro said Lim should act fact and aggressively in salvaging the tourism image of the country.
“The DoT should be able to accomplish this the soonest possible time before foreign investments start to plunge along with the negative impact on the tourism sector,” said Teodoro.
With the safety of foreign inbound tourists at stake, the country faced cancellations of flights and hotel bookings from foreign tourists as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) issued a top level “black travel alert” for the Philippines.
Immediately after the deadly hostage-taking, the Philippine Airlines (PAL) said that more than 500 tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China have canceled their reservations with them. (Ben R. Rosario)