Palace says no need to realign anti-insurgency funds
THERE is no need to realign the government’s anti-insurgency budget for next year to increase funding for disaster response, Malacañang Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said on Thursday. In a briefing, he said the funds allocated for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) will go to typhoon-affected and calamity-prone areas anyway because insurgents are active in these regions. “Iyong ELCAC na pondo po ay pupunta doon sa area na mayroong insurgency problem dahil alam naman natin na kinakailangan magkaroon ng pag-unlad para mawala na iyong problema pagdating sa insurgency (The ECLAC fund will go to the areas that have insurgency problems because as we know, development is needed to eradicate the insurgency problem),” he said. Opposition lawmakers have questioned the P19-billion proposed budget for NTF-ELCAC in 2021, and have called for a realignment to other purposes such as recovery programs in areas devastated by natural calamities. — Gillian M. Cortez
Philippines in the running for 5 global categories after winning 4 Asian honors in 2020 World Travel Awards
THE PHILIPPINES now has four awards from the 27th World Travel Awards after Intramuros, the Spanish-era walled city in the capital Manila, was declared as Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction on Wednesday. The announcement came after the country bagged the Asia awards for leading beach and diving destination, and the Department of Tourism as leading tourist board. “These recognitions are certainly an inspiration to the industry as we safely and gradually reopen our destinations for tourism. These would not be possible without the combined efforts from our tourism stakeholders, local government units, partner agencies, and our fellow Filipinos who have tirelessly promoted our country’s attractions, products, and culture,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement. Meanwhile, the Philippines is also in the running for five global categories, including the four that won at the regional level plus Siargao as leading island destination. The tourism industry contributed P2.48 trillion to the economy in 2019, the highest since 2000 based on available government data. Visitor arrivals have been on a steady growth in the past five years, with more than 8.2 million recorded last year from 5.36 million in 2015.