By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, Business Mirror, May 11, 2018
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Various tourism industry associations warmly welcomed the appointment of Bernadette Fatima Romulo-Puyat as secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Many of the heads of the tourism groups told the BusinessMirror, that while they didn’t know her personally, they were looking forward to working with her, and pointed to her track record as undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Cesar R. Cruz, President, Philippine Tour Operators Association
Cesar Cruz, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa), said: “Her experience as a civil servant and exposure in marketing and promotions provide a sigh of welcome relief to the industry stakeholders who have been subjected to extraordinary challenges, from corruption scandals to the lack of policy direction, promotion and marketing program.”
He added that the Philtoa “looks forward to the return of high morale in the industry and move on to more substantial undertakings for the success of the Philippine tourism industry.”
Jose Clemente III, President, Tourism Congress of the Philippines
Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) lauded Romulo-Puyat’s pronouncement that she would keep the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” brand campaign. “That’s great news,” he said, adding, “we’re off to a great start.” (See, “New DOT chief vows to be tough on corruption; will keep ‘It’s More Fun in the PHL’ brand campaign,” in the BusinessMirror, May 10, 2018.)
He said the industry also expressed optimism about moving forward, “getting back to the business of tourism without distractions. We are anticipating more dialogues and exchanges of ideas with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the new leadership. We wish to be a true partner of the DOT.” The TCP, as envisioned by the Tourism Act of 2009, is composed of representatives of all accredited tourism enterprises and former government officials in the tourism industry.
Even former Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. was pleased with the appointment of Romulo-Puyat as DOT chief. “Berna is a hard worker and an experienced bureaucrat. She should do well. I hope she moves quickly to heal the industry.” The new DOT secretary had expressed keen admiration for Jimenez for launching the It’s More Fun in the Philippines, brand campaign and for being able to “think out of the box.
Christine U. Ibarreta, president, Hotel Sales and Marketing International Inc.
For her part, Christine Anne U. Ibarreta, president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing International Inc. (HSMA) hoped for a good partnership between the tourism industry professionals and the new Tourism secretary-designate, based on the latter’s seeming understanding of the plight of women in agriculture and workers in general. “In the same light, we wish she would open her office for HSMA and other industry organizations to hear our requests and we will be more than willing to help and support her in her bid to make the Philippines a fun destination again.”
Ibarreta added, “Personally I admire the way she brought up her children during the challenging days of her life. She’s a person with a heart to serve. Her lineage speaks of service and love for country.”
Marlene Dado Jante, president, Philippine Travel Agencies Association Inc.
For Marlene Jante, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association Inc., the group will support “whoever sits as DOT secretary, and we hope to get the same support. We hope the new secretary will be very accommodating in terms of meetings with the private sector to hear our concerns. The DOT and the private sector should work hand in hand to promote our destinations.
Romulo-Puyat comes from a family of civil servants, starting with her granduncle, the late statesman Carlos P. Romulo, and her father, former Senator and Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo. Her brother, Roman, is a former congressman of Pasig City.
She told reporters on Wednesday that it was important for government officials to stick to the rules and stay away from questionable deals. “At the end of the day, your only capital is your family name.”
Romulo-Puyat stressed she would grant no favors to family and kin, and narrated that when her father held the foreign affairs department portfolio, she had to line up like everyone else “for three hours” to get her passport renewed.
She said she would thoroughly go over all projects and contracts signed under the administration of Wanda Corazon T. Teo. “You really have to look at it. So I really have to check everything and make sure there’s proper bidding, there’s transparency. I have to check because, I can’t say that it wasn’t my fault [in case the contract is flagged], that was the former [administration]…. I’m definitely going to look at all the contracts.”
Teo resigned on May 7 after a Commission on Audit report tagged a P60-million payment by the People’s Television Network Inc. (PTV-4) to Bitag Unlimited Media Inc., owned by her brother Ben Tulfo, for not being covered by the required documents. The funds, it was reported, came from the media placement contract of the DOT with PTV-4.