Tourism in Davao Oriental still a priority despite NPA attack

Subscribe Now February 23, 2015 at 09:45am

Tourism promotion for Davao Oriental remains a top priority for the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) despite last week's thwarted attack by the leftist group New People's Army (NPA) on the police headquarters of the province's capital, Mati City.

Secretary Luwalhati R. Antonino, MinDA chair, said in a statement last week that the agency is working on getting funds for tourism infrastructure and addressing investment bottlenecks to speed up related projects in the province.

There are new sources within the national government’s budget “that are just waiting to be tapped,” she said.

In an earlier interview, Janet M. Lopoz, MinDA executive director, told BusinessWorld that the agency is helping develop is the Aliwagwag Protected Landscape, which features waterfalls in Cateel, one of the towns hardest hit by typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

The provincial government, with its comprehensive tourism development program, has already secured a P20-million funding for the development of tourism facilities in three localities -- Mati City and the towns of Governor Generoso and San Isidro -- that straddle the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary.

Mt. Hamiguitan, home of endemic flora and fauna and a centuries-old pygmy forest, was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last year.

Besides the mountain range, Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon earlier told BusinessWorld that she is also focusing on developing other key tourist spots in the province, including the Aliwagwag Protected Landscape, Pintatagan Welcome Park and Shrine in Banaybanay, Pusan Point, and the Cape San Agustin.

Ms. Malanyaon added that they are aiming to appoint one main tourist destination in each of the 10 towns and Mati City, then come up with an all-inclusive tourism package for Davao Oriental.

“The idea here is to create a tourism loop, putting up a place that people can see and visit in every town,” said Ms. Malanyaon.

The province’s tourism development plan is included in the national program as specified within Republic Act 10560, a law signed in 2013 ordering the Department of Tourism to include Davao Oriental as a priority development area.

The military, which declared Davao Oriental last year as an insurgency-free province, is currently still in pursuit of the members who assaulted the Mati City police station last Feb. 15.

Armed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines immediately retreated after facing strong defense from a police force on high alert and backed by the military.

Four soldiers, a security aide of the governor, and one NPA died in the firefight. No civilian was hurt in the Sunday evening encounter despite the police’s station’s location in a populated area in the center of town.


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