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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, January 10, 2013
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Mayor, Orola seeking DOT, DILG help

The Immigration Commissioner has again denied the request of the Mayor to allow chartered flights of Zest Air from Korea, carrying about 1,850 golfers and tourists, to land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, prompting the city to seek the assistance of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia yesterday said he has asked Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. to reconsider his position and provide the necessary Customs immigration and quarantine services to the chartered flights from Korea to land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport from January 10 to February 7.

Bacolod City Administrator John Orola said he was very much dismayed and disappointed with the response of David.

He wrote Jimenez Tuesday seeking his immediate assistance and intervention pointing out that the policy of the Bureau of Immigration is not consistent with the pronouncement of President Benigno Aquino III and the Department of Tourim’s slogan, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”

Orola said they will appeal the matter to Justice Secretary Leila Delima since the BID is under her department.

David again denied the request of the Mayor in his letter dated January 8 to Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, saying that the Bureau is unable to accede to the request of Zest Air at this time due to manpower and equipment constraints and will only accommodate their request by February 15.

Orola said the Mayor had written David that the DOT Iloilo is willing to loan the Bacolod-Silay Airport its computers with passport reading mechanism.

Orola, in his letter to Jimenez, said “David is not at all cooperative in making things easier for the implementation of the government’s tourism program, although two Commissioners have favorably endorsed the Mayor’s appeal.”

Leonardia said “Over all, not only Bacolod is concerned here. This is Philippine tourism. We need a system or bureaucracy that will facilitate, instead of block, or give us problems.”

How they wish the country had officials who are directed towards accommodating possible opportunities, instead of being myopic about matters like these.

“I hope our officials will have a ready plan of action to respond to this kind of situation because an opportunity like this may not come again, or we might turn off possible golf tourism investors to our city or province,” Leonardia added.

Meanwhile, Orola said Koreans still topped the number of tourist arrivals in Bacolod with a total of 49,673 in 2011 alone.*CGS

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