CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental – Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday vowed that if elected, he will support and promote the tourism industry in Misamis Oriental, particularly in this city, to spread growth and progress in the countryside and speed up the country’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russo-Ukraine conflict.
“What we need nowadays, we’ve lost 4.2 million jobs, and the easiest way to recover those opportunities for our people is to create more tourism opportunities in every province, and this province included. So, I’m happy and may awa ang Diyos, sa tulong ng tao, pinalad tayo na maging pangulo, ay talagang tatargetin natin na mapalaki ang turismo sa buong bansa because I really want jobs for our people. ‘Pag may trabaho, may makakain. ‘Pag may makakain, that answers your problem,” Moreno said in an interview after a courtesy call with Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente ”Bambi” Emano at the provincial capitol.
“I agree with the governor with regard to his direction for the past decade putting the entire province as part of the tourism belt of the country. And we know for a fact that science will agree with us that every tourist creates 1 job. So, one tourist, one job. Napakaganda ng kanyang direction,” Moreno added.
The province’s tourism industry was brought about during the brief meeting between Moreno and Emano, with Mayor Isko commenting on the vast tourism potential of the province, as well as that of the entire Mindanao.
Cagayan de Oro City is a major destination for the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) segment of tourism. Prior to the pandemic, the city hosts at least 400 events every year. It has close to 5,000 rooms in different hotels and can host a single gathering of 3,000 people.
Tourism is a major factor in diversifying northern Mindanao’s economic base which has been dependent on manufacturing, agriculture, and retail.
Like Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City is also a major MICE-destination.
According to the Regional Development Report 2018 prepared by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the increase in tourists in northern Mindanao between 2016 and 2017 generated 10,000 jobs.
But like in all tourist spots across the country, Misamis Oriental’s tourism industry was badly affected by the pandemic, leading to the loss of jobs and livelihood. The easing of travel restrictions, in the country and across the world, has given hope for the revival of the industry and brings in desperately needed jobs and livelihood to Filipinos.
Tourism is one of the main pillars of Moreno’s 10-point “Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda”, which is his blueprint to hasten human and economic growth in the six years of his term once elected.
Prior to the pandemic, the sector has contributed 12.7% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) with about 5.4 million Filipinos getting their livelihood from the tourism industry.
“Kaya nga ‘pag mas maraming turista, maraming trabaho. Pag maraming trabaho, maraming may makakain. ‘Pag may maraming makakain, papanatag ang pamumuhay,” Moreno stressed.
Under Moreno’s Economic Agenda, the building of tourism highways and the development of tourism circuits will be prioritized along with the promotion of sustainable tourism and event-based tourism.
The 47-year-old Aksyon Demokratiko presidential candidate also vowed to pursue a “Life and Livelihood” economic policy that aims to address poverty, hunger, unemployment, inequality, and social injustice through the effective, efficient, and prudent management of government resources under an open, transparent and inclusive administration, as spelled out under his 10-point Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda.
Among his immediate economic policies will be to cut the excise taxes on oil products and electricity by 50% to bring down the cost of production and lower the price of basic commodities.
Moreno also vowed to continue the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, this time focusing on the minimum basic needs – housing, education, health care, employment – by building more socialized housing, public school buildings, public hospitals with premium facilities in all the 17 regions of the country to create more jobs and business opportunities.
A major part of his accelerated infrastructure program is to prioritize equitable growth, thus infusing more infrastructure development in areas or provinces with a low human development index (HDI) to bring about a more inclusive economic growth.
Moreno: “I guarantee you, may awa ang Diyos, sa tulong ninyo, walang Mindanao, walang Visayas, walang Luzon; walang bakla, walang tomboy, walang babae, walang lalake; walang mahirap, walang middle class, walang mayaman. Lahat, pantay-pantay, may equal opportunity.”
“That is our commitment to you. Not only here, but my commitment to every single Filipino, that there is an equal opportunity waiting for you to grow under our leadership,” said Moreno.