President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will still push through with his visit to Boracay Island on Thursday despite threats poised by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, his spokesman said on Tuesday.
Duterte is bound to inspect the top tourist destination and distribute certificates of land ownership awards in Barangay Manoc-Manoc in the town of Malay.
“There’s a scheduled event on distribution of certificate, land certificates on Thursday afternoon,” Panelo told reporters.
On Monday night, the President revealed his plans and even teased Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to swim with him on the island.
“Ito kasing si Berna eh. Wala na magpunta. Sabi ko, ‘Sige, magpunta ako pero maligo tayo,” Duterte said.
The Presidential Security Group’s (PSG) had earlier issued a ‘no-touch’ policy towards the Chief Executive, however, Duterte just shrugged it off saying it is his job to meet people.
“Sinasabi ko sa inyo, na kung tawagin na ako ng Diyos ngayong oras na ito, pupunta na ako. Tapos na ako,” Duterte said.
The scheduled Boracay visit will be Duterte’s first after its 6-month closure and rehabilitation in 2018. It will also serve as an effort of the administration to promote domestic tourism with the expected decrease of foreign tourists due to the epidemic outbreak.
Meanwhile, DOT revealed that tourist arrivals in February dropped 41.4 percent compared to 2019 following the series of travel bans imposed by the government and other countries.
On the other hand, Malacañang issued a warning to the tourism industry on their expected losses due to the continuous threat of the virus.
“Tourism industry all over the world will be infected so we have to brace ourselves for that. Whether we like it or not, there will be business losses and we should brace ourselves for that,” Panelo said.