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The DOT rating the hotel/ resort industry. Why?

Twenty-nine years after the 1986 EDSA Revolution when our battle cry was “Justice for Ninoy, Justice for All,” justice took another beating when the Supreme Court last Thursday gave 91-year-old former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) a provisional release after a year of detention for plunder and graft charges for allegedly pocketing P173 million from the pork barrel funds for using fake NGO’s as exposed by Janet Lim Napoles.

But the biggest slap to Lady Justice was – JPE was released because the SC showed him mercy and compassion due to his age and frail health. But after he paid the P1 million bail bond (for sure he used monies that he allegedly stole) he told the media that he was returning to the Senate to work! Now this only shows that JPE wasn’t really that sick… and in the end, it looks like he fooled the SC into releasing him.

Shame on our lack of justice. This is no different from former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s pardoning the convicted former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada… which only tells the Filipino people that the political class even if caught for corruption would protect themselves using their influence in the Supreme Court. These people are sowing the seeds of another revolution, and I can only hope it will still be a bloodless one. We can’t blame our people for getting angry with the political class who steal their hard earned tax money… only to be freed by our Supreme Court. Shame on us!

There is no doubt that so many things that are broken in the Philippines (like our ugly political system) that needs to be fixed like the Department of Transportation & Communications (DOTC) that just can’t do the right thing, especially in fixing the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). Mr. Bert Lance the Budget Secretary under the Carter Administration has been attributed to making this very famous quotation, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

But did you know in the Tourism industry, there is something that has been there for a long time that doesn’t need to be fixed…then out of the blue, the Department of Tourism (DoT) started to monkey around with the Hotel Star Rating systems… and now tongues are wagging that the DOT is making a horrible mistake?

I first heard this from our friends, Sir Arthur Lopez and Babes Romualdez who was with me on our table during the birthday of our good friend Mr. Johnny Litton and they intimated to me a problem brewing in the DOT. This was also referred to me by my good friend, Mr. Tourism himself, Mr. Bobby Joseph that something went wrong with the ratings of Plantation Bay in Mactan, Cebu. Since Manny Gonzales owner of Plantation Bay is a good friend, so last Saturday, I headed off to Mactan to have dinner with Manny Gonzales and his General Manager Efren Belarmino.

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I learned from Mr. Gonzales that he filed a case of corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila against DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez and the head of the DOT’s Accreditation Department because the people behind the DOT’s Hotel Star Rating Program downgraded Plantation Bay from 5-Star status to 4-Star status. I was there and their service and food and amenities were still 5-Star level for me and the tourists there.

Gonzales believes that the DOT apparently used falsehoods and subjective judgments in downgrading the rating of Plantation Bay. He also told me that this could have been in retaliation by the DOT against him because he openly objected to the DOT’s coming up with the Hotel Rating program. Hmmm sounds very much like Daang Matuwid to me…where people that go against them get harassed! I will be more specific in our next column on this.

This DOT program was initiated only two years ago by the DOT where they hired foreign consultants supposedly to lend credibility to this Hotel Rating program. But what Manny Gonzales learned was that the DOT hired UK consultants because they were already available because the UK government decided that government had no business in rating hotels, something that TripAdvisor, Expedia and Agoda do better as they have become the best promoter of hotels and resorts worldwide. I fully concur!

So what really is the issue at hand? It is whether the DOT should get itself involved in the Hotel Rating program? Don’t take it from me or even Mr. Gonzales; all you need to do is Google what the other countries are doing and you’ll be surprised that countries like Norway, Canada, and America do not rate their hotels or resorts. Even Israel is getting out of this program. So why is the Philippines swimming against the current and paddling up river?

Well your guess is as good as mine. When bureaucrats gather and impose their rules against the hotel industry… you can bet that corruption is the main but hidden objective. Mind you, Manny Gonzales is not alone… I would like to believe that the entire Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Industry is up in arms against the DOT on this Hotel Rating Program simply because anything that government bureaucrats touch leads to corruption.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com.


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