New Tourism chief accepts Duterte’s challenge to affirm ‘no corruption’ policy

Newly-appointed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat revealed President Rodrigo Duterte’s first instruction for her was to maintain a “no corruption” policy as she takes over the department that was recently involved in a P60-million advertising deal controversy.

“My only instruction from the President when he offered it and then I accepted – he said, ‘Congratulations! All I want is no corruption. Don’t steal,’ he told me. And I said, ‘Yes, of course,’ ” Puyat said Wednesday, May 9.

Wanda Tulfo-Teo resigned from her post after the Commission on Audit (COA)’s report about a questionable contract involving the payment of P60 million for an ad placement on government-run PTV-4 and Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI)’s show “Kilos Pronto,” which Teo’s brothers, Erwin and Ben Tulfo, host.

Puyat, who served at the Department of Agriculture for 12 years, said she would likely prioritize farm and culinary tourism.

“We’ve been working with (the DOT) with regard to farm tourism. That’s been their main project with the DA (Department of Agriculture). So might as well continue it,” she said. “I will continue the farm tourism and culinary tourism because when you go to a country, food is one of the things tourists go to.”

Puyat admitted that she did not expect her new position.

“I was a bit surprised because we were talking about agriculture then suddenly it was tourism,” she said.

While she has no plans for DOT yet, Puyat emphasized that she will continue to work on the projects that Teo started. She also wants to check DOT’s plans concerning the rehabilitation project for Boracay and the possible re-hosting of Miss Universe 2018 in the country.

Puyat also said that she’s always ready to explore more ways to improve the country’s tourism sector.

DOT is confident Puyat’s expertise and experience will help reach its goal under the National Tourism Development Plan for 2016-2022. The DOT hopes to boost tourist arrivals to 7.4 million this year. 

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