Romulo Puyat vows to rid tourism department of corruption
MANILA, Philippines – Incoming Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat was given strict orders by President Rodrigo Duterte to rid the agency of corruption.
“Ang unang bilin niya [Duterte] sa akin, ‘Congratulations, ang gusto ko lang na huwag ka maging corrupt,' and then natawa siya ‘alam ko naman hindi,’” said Romulo Puyat. (The very first thing Duterte told me was, "Congratulations, the only thing I want is for you to not be corrupt," and then he laughed and said, "I know you won't.")
She said she was “shocked” after hearing the corruption allegations against her predecessor, resigned tourism secretary Wanda Teo.
The incoming tourism chief revealed that she thought the President was joking that she would be replacing Teo.
"'Have you heard that Secretary Teo resigned? I think you are fit for that job.' I thought he was joking because the President sometimes jokes around," said Romulo Puyat.
She admited she had “no idea what to do” yet with the mess in the department, but she vowed to check all documents.
She said she will ensure that the proper bidding processes are implemented.
“I have my lawyers to check documents before I sign,” she added.
As for priority tourism projects, Romulo Puyat wants to push sustainable tourism and put a limit on visitors allowed in a tourist destination.
"There has to be a balance of promoting and sustaining [the environment]," she said.
She also said she will incorporate the knowledge she gained in the Department of Agriculture (DA), where she served as undersecretary.
Romulo Puyat said that she has a special interest in local food and promised to give the food industry a boost.
The new tourism chief has yet to sign the necessary documents to assume office.
In a text message to reporters, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said that Romulo Puyat “is a big loss to the DA especially in our marketing advocacies. But I am happy for her.”
“Looking at the brighter side, she and I could now work closely and coordinate our efforts and funding in promoting farm tourism and agri-tourism,” Piñol added.
Several senators have lauded Romulo Puyat for her “integrity and competence”. – Rappler.com
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