Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Mindanao still safe

- By Kristina Maralit

Despite the recent pronouncem­ent of President Rodrigo Duterte that Mindanao is a “dangerous place,” the Department of Tourism (DoT) assured the public that the region is still safe for tourists, saying it is peaceful and in fact “full of attraction­s and destinatio­ns.”

DoT Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III particular­ly cited Zamboanga as a must-visit destinatio­n for its resemblanc­e to Intramuros and beaches with pink sand.

“If you go to Zamboanga, I don’t think that it’s a troubled area. I go there for bird watching. If we have the Intramuros here, you should see the old forts that they have in Zamboanga. It’s a city where you would see the interplay of Muslim culture, the American heritage (and) the

Spanish heritage,” Alabado said in last Wednesday’s economic briefing in Malacañang. “I would encourage our Filipino tourists to visit Zamboanga and you would be pleasantly surprised at how nice the pink beaches of Santa Cruz Island,” he added.

The official also mentioned Davao City as a bustling hub for domestic tourism with hotels “always fully-booked.”

“That is a good indicator that tourists are going to Davao and Mindanao. Siargao is part of Mindanao, Camiguin is part of Mindanao and they are enjoying the boom of tourists visiting there,” Alabado said. Alabado noted that they are banking on the region’s rich and diverse culture to lure more tourists. Mr. Duterte recently remarked that Mindanao is a dangerous place as there is still lawless violence in the region even as the government imposed martial law there since 2017.

Mindanao was placed under military rule in response to the Islamic State-influenced Maute Group’s siege in Marawi City. Initially in effect for only 60 days, it has been extended thrice by Congress upon the request of the President. Unless it is prolonged anew, martial law is set to expire by 31 December 2019.

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