Tourism package under COVID-19 response a “Php14-billion lie” — IBON

March 18, 2020

by IBON Foundation

In the middle of the worst public health crisis the country has ever seen, the Duterte administration is lying to the public about its efforts to address the pandemic, research group IBON said. After underscoring the insufficiency of the Php27.1 billion COVID-19 response package of the Duterte administration, the group’s executive director Sonny Africa said that the Duterte administration added Php14 billion worth of tourism infrastructure projects to bloat the anti-coronavirus funds.

Africa said that the Php14 billion allocation identified by government’s economic managers as support for tourism, supposedly being the sector most affected by the COVID-19 threat, is actually part of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) funds for big-ticket infrastructure projects. Most of these were already allocated even before the pandemic hit the country, Africa pointed out.

This includes Php8 billion for 2009-2018 board-approved projects and Php5.2 billion for 2019 board-approved projects. TIEZA also has Php2.1 billion in scheduled payables.

“None of the Php14 billion in big-ticket TIEZA infrastructure projects have anything to do with COVID-19 response,” said Africa. “How will spending on Boracay water drainage, rehabilitation of Burnham Park in Baguio, a sewage treatment plant in Coron, and masterplanning of tourism sites, for instance, help us battle COVID-19?”

Africa said that to put it bluntly, the Duterte administration is being downright deceitful about its anti-COVID-19 undertakings.

“This is a gross disservice to our health workers on the frontlines, to those who are still working to ensure basic goods and services, and to the millions of Filipinos whose lives and livelihoods have been displaced by the lockdown,” said Africa. ###