MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez defended the June 1-6 2017 expedition of congressmen to Northern Luzon which critics have derided as an "outing," after the legislature adjourned its first regular session, sine die.
The North Luzon Inspection Trip covered La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Ifugao, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Baguio City, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga, wherein lawmakers continued their inspection of the country’s roads and highways, vital infrastructures, and installations to ensure the maximum benefit, comfort and safety of the Filipino people.
About 100 district and party-list lawmakers had manifested their desire to be part of the expedition, which included stays at resorts and hotels in Thunderbird, La Union; Vigan, Ilocos Sur; the Sand Dunes in Laoag, Ilocos Norte; the Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao; the Ambuklao Hydroelectric Plant, Benguet; Baguio City; Pangasinan; Las Casas, Bagac, Bataan; Fontana, Pampanga; as well as a yachting and cruise in Subic, Zambales.
Alvarez said the expedition was nothing fancy.
"Alam mo, subukan kaya nila yung ginawa namin kung madali ba. Imbes na magpahinga kami, nagiikot kami sa lahat ng probinsiya. Yung congressman sumasakay ng bus. Isipin mo naman yan, magshe-share ng kwarto. Isang kwarto apat, yan ba ay outing?" he said.
The Speaker pointed out the expedition was a working trip as lawmakers conducted committee hearings that allowed them to see for themselves the problems in tourist spots in the places they visited.
"Nagko-conduct kami ng committee hearings. Ano nakita namin? Banaue, pinabayaan, nasa UNESCO [Heritage Site].Pumunta ka ng Banaue, ang pangit. Bakit di natin inalagaan yun? Kaya sabi ko nga, etong Department of Tourism, yung budget nila kailangan merong rehabilitation yan kasi national heritage yan. Napabayaan, tapos gusto natin yung tourism? Dumadami yung turista na dumadating sa ating bansa, local and foreign, pero how can you promote tourism kung ganiyan? Ano na yan mga destination," he pointed out.
The “North Luzon Inspection Trip” was inspired by the "success" of the historic “First House of Representatives Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Expedition” held from March 17 to 27, 2017 during which House members checked on the status of roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ports and facilities, roads and highways, and infrastructures, among others.
The Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Inspection Expedition started off in Manila going to Mindoro and Iloilo then to Mindanao and the Visayas Region. It passed by the Bicol Region, Quezon and Batangas on its way back to Manila.
In his report to Congress during the plenary session last May 10, Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas submitted the Ad Hoc Committee report on the “First House of Representatives Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Expedition” which was the first part of the Speaker’s Highways Inspection Project.
Fariñas said the Speaker wanted the undertaking to assist the House Members during the budget deliberations in identifying priority areas that need budgetary support, reviewing all budget proposals of concerned agencies, and identifying which projects the Filipino people will mostly benefit from.