MANILA, Philippines – A year after he was appointed, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez finally got the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
The bicameral body confirmed Jimenez's appointment as chief of the Department of Tourism (DOT) after a hearing on Wednesday that took less than an hour. It was Jimenez’s first time to appear before the CA.
"It's not just me. It's what we've done in the last year or so that was being evaluated," he told reporters after the CA's tourism committee endorsed his confirmation. "I am very pleased that they have given all of us their vote of confidence."
Senators and congressmen were unanimous in endorsing Jimenez, who was a former advertising executive.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, for instance, thanked Jimenez for coming up with his campaign slogan, "Big Man sa Senado" in the last elections. Drilon said Jimenez was also behind Sen. Joker Arroyo's campaign slogan in previous elections.
No conflict of interest
During his confirmation hearing, Jimenez said he will adopt a "clustered strategy" in developing the country's tourism industry.
"It forces government and local and national entities to come together so that we are able to develop and cluster a group of areas so that no single area grows by itself. Promotions, infrastructure-everything is clustered," he said.
He also assured lawmakers that there's no conflict of interest between his job in government and his connections to the advertising industry.
Jimenez said that for one, the DOT does not regulate advertising firms. He and his family have also sold all their shares in Publicis Jimenez Basic, a firm he founded.
He said the only remaining company his wife heads is Winning Over Obstacles (WOO) Communications Corp., which does not have clients in the tourism industry.
"My family is prevented from participating in any advertising for the department and its projects," he added.
He vowed to continue what he started in the DOT, such as strengthening the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" tourism campaign.
"Ang mundo ay hindi pa mulat na mulat sa kagandahan ng Pilipinas at sa kanyang mga inaalok na serbisyo. Patuloy po ang ating pagpupursigi para lumawak ang ating kaalaman tungkol sa Pilipinas sa larangan ng turismo," Jimenez said.
Stand on RH bill
Near the end of the hearing, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta asked Jimenez his stand on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
Citing the book of Genesis, Jimenez answered, "When everything started, God created life and he created the heavens and the earth and then the animals. When he had all of that, it was then and only then that he brought man into the world. Our Lord was the very first responsible parent in human history."
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, a staunch critic of the RH bill, was impressed. "Hearing that, we should have approved him three years ago," he said.
"I am for responsible parenthood, which is just another name for…" Jimenez said, but his answer was cut short as lawmakers moved to end the hearing and endorse his confirmation.
Asked by reporters after the hearing if responsible parenthood is the same as the RH bill for him, Jimenez said, "You can take it like that. You're smart kids."