Lawmakers to ‘inspect’ tourist spots, RORO ships

Mara Cepeda
Lawmakers to ‘inspect’ tourist spots, RORO ships
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denies the trip is a junket, saying they will be working within the allowable budget for out-of-town committee hearings

MANILA, Philippines – Ranking members of the House of Representatives are set to go around the country aboard roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ships to “inspect” tourism facilities as part of their “oversight” functions as lawmakers.

Led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, the following House leaders will be embarking on the 10-day Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Expedition from March 17 to 27:

  • Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez (South Cotabato 2nd District)
  • Senior Deputy Majority Leader Juan Pablo Bondoc (Pampanga 4th District)
  • Tourism committee chairperson Lucy Torres-Gomez (Leyte 4th District)
  • Public works and highways committee chairperson Celso Lobregat (Zamboanga City 1st District)
  • Transportation committee chairperson Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes)
  • Ways and means committee chairperson Dakila Cua (Quirino)
  • Appropriations committee chairperson Karlo Nograles (Davao City 1st District)
  • Banks and financial intermediaries committee chairperson Ben Evardone (Eastern Samar)
  • Justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro 2nd District)

The lawmakers will be visiting popular tourist spots and hotels in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro; Boracay Island; Bacolod City in Negros Occidental; Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental; Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte; Aurora; Cagayan de Oro; Dahilayan, Lantapan, and Malaybalay City in Bukidnon; Davao City; Samal Island; Butuan City; Tacloban City in Leyte; Legazpi City in Albay; and Quezon. 

The traveling House leaders will be met by other representatives in the districts they will be going to. 

According to Fariñas, they will be going on the trip “to experience the mode of travel of the ordinary traveler and inspect the seaworthiness of the ROROs and the roadworthiness of the highways and bridges along the Nautical Highway.”

“We will also inspect tourism facilities and security conditions…. It will involve traveling on sea and land for almost 5,000 kilometers. This is the HOR performing its oversight functions firsthand,” added Fariñas.

The Ilocos Norte 1st District represenative said Alvarez wanted to conduct the caravan in anticipation of the influx of tourists who will be traveling around the Philippines during the Holy Week in April.

Alvarez also denied the caravan is a junket, which refers to trips made by government officals at the public’s expense. 

“Hindi junket ‘yan kasi so far, ‘di naman kami lalampas do’n sa budget na pupuwedeng gamitin do’n sa mga out-of-town committee hearings (This is not a junket because so far, we will not be going beyond the allowable budget for out-of-town committee hearings),” said Alvarez.

He added that they included funds for the trip in committees’ budgets beforehand.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he will be putting an end to “junket” seminars for government employees in a bid to address corruption. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.