Amid impact of COVID-19 outbreak to tourism, Cayetano urges gov't to fast-track infra projects

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2020 07:38 PM

Taguig-Paterop 1st District Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano takes his oath as House Speaker of the 18th Congress at the House of Representatives on July 22, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday asked the executive branch to implement infrastructure projects as the country deals with lower tourist arrivals because of the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).

Speaking to media, Cayetano said, “‘Yung appeal ko sa economic team at sa infrastructure team, habang ‘yung uncertainty ng COVID-19 nandiyan, at habang maaapektuhan ang international tourism, agahan niyo ang pag-release at pagpapagawa ng infra projects.”

(My appeal to the economic team and the infrastructure team is, while the uncertainty over the COVID-19 is there and while international tourism will be affected, accelerate the release and implementation of infra projects.)

For Cayetano, government should take advantage of the summer season and the low season for tourism due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Why? Number one, so ‘yung ibang tourism-related jobs, puwedeng tumulong sa construction. Number two, para tamaan niyo ‘yung March, April, May na tag-init, na mas maraming magagawa. Number three, pagka walang problema, walang health issues, walang weather issues, traffic everywhere. Pagka nag-construct ka, lalong traffic," he explained.

(Why? Number one, so that other tourism-related jobs can help in the construction. Number two, so you can take advantage of the dry season in March, April and May, which will allow for more projects to be accomplished. Number three, if there are no problems, no health issues, no weather issues, traffic everywhere will be bad. And if you do construction activities, traffic will be worse.)

This is why Cayetano believes the fallout from COVID-19 is the best time to pursue those projects.

”So gamitin natin ang sitwasyon that we have millions of potential foreign tourists not coming at this time, para ayusin ‘yung infrastructure," he said.

(Let's us take advantage of the situation where we have millions of potential foreign tourists not coming at this time, to fix our infrastructure.)

"Yes, there’s a big challenge, but there’s always a silver lining, and the silver lining now will come if we pump prime the economy by focusing on some infra projects, both small, medium, and large scale. So, ganun din ang paki-usap ko sa mga LGUs. Makipag-usap na kayo kaagad sa national government kung may mga problema sa alignment, para hindi tumagal," the leader of the House of Representatives said.

(I am making the same appeal to local government units. You talk to the national government regarding alignment problems so projects won't drag.)

"Kasi ‘pag ‘yan inumpisahan ng November, peak season naman natin ng tourism, December. God willing, after the second half of this year, wala COVID-19 or under control na. So dagsa na naman ang tourism. So, in the meantime, itong first two quarters, sana Build, Build, Build tayo," he said.

(Because if you start those in November, it's already the start of the tourism peak season, December. God willing, after the second half of this year, there's no more COVID-19 or it's already under control. So, there will be a boost again in tourism. So, in the meantime, during these first two quarters, let's do the Build, Build, Build.)

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier urged Filipinos to travel around the Philippines in light of fears on international travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on China and its territories in a bid to control the spread of the COVID-19.

China is the Philippines second largest source of foreign tourists, next only to South Korea, and accounts for nearly a fifth of the total, tourism department data showed.