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Corruption hurts Philippine tourism, says Cayetano

Senator and vice presidential bet Alan Peter Cayetano said he and running mate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will resolve the problem in tourism by promoting transparency and accountability in government. Philstar.com/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Senator and vice presidential bet Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday said systemic corruption in government is also hurting the country’s tourism sector.

Cayetano engaged local tour guides and operators in Vigan, Ilocos Sur as part of the “Ronda-Serye” nationwide listening tour he is conducting with running mate, Davao City Mayor and PDP-Laban-standard bearer Rodrigo Duterte.

In his talk with the local tour operators, Cayetano presented his plan of how to rid government of corruption, which he says hinders the growth of local economies.

Cayetano lamented that while billions worth of money are stolen from the nation's coffers every year, the Philippine tourism industry continues to lag behind its counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In 2014, he said the country only welcomed 4.8 million tourists, while Malaysia recorded 27.43 million tourist arrivals.

The administration is also far from reaching its 10-million target for tourist arrivals by the end of President Benigno Aquino III's term, with only 5.3 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2015.

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“Sobra na ang paghihirap sa bansa, nauunahan na tayo ng mga karatig bansa pagdating sa pag-unlad, pagtapos ay nanakawan pa ng mga korap na opisyal ang kaban ng bayan. Paano maaayos ang gulo?” Cayetano said.

"We all know that corruption prevents the inflow of investments and negatively affects economic growth. So if we want our tourism sector to boom, we first need to cleanse our system of dishonest officials who enrich themselves at the expense of our nation's progress," he added.

Cayetano said if elected, he and Duterte will resolve the problem by promoting transparency and accountability in government. Among these are the passage of several important measures such as the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Anti-dummy laws.

The senator also pushed for the creation of a Department of Culture and National Heritage, which will be responsible for the promotion and preservation of historical and heritage sites. He explained that the department will help spur region-specific tourism in different provinces and create employment and other livelihood opportunities.

"What we need is a clean and honest government that will end the disorder in the country, lure more investors, create more jobs, and generate more income for our people. With our political will and vision, Mayor Duterte and I will deliver," Cayetano said. 

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