AS Philippine tourism moves towards its much-anticipated recovery, the Department of Tourism (DOT) joined hands with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to beef up security in tourist destinations across the country.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) has been signed between the three government agencies at the PDEA Head Office last March 14 in unison with the national government’s effort to step up security and safety of the general public, especially in the area of drugs-related crimes, a flagship program of the current administration.
“We welcome this latest collaboration with our country’s police force and drug enforcement agency in an aim to provide greater deterrence and protection against the illicit trafficking of dangerous drugs in tourist destinations,” said Philippines Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.
Branded as Tourism Operation Protection Against Illegal Drugs or the TOP-AID, this latest partnership between the DOT, PDEA and PNP is a follow through to the TOPCOP program, the tourism security force assisting in maintaining peace and order within areas of high tourism traffic. TOPCOP was established in 2011 and has trained 5,457 tourist police and put up 365 Tourist Police Assistance Centers (TPAC) in strategic locations across the country.
Under the new TOP-AID MOA, between the DOT, PDEA and PNP, the parties agree to cooperate and render assistance to ensure further protection, safety, and security of tourists in DOT identified tourist destinations.
“Tourists safety and well-being is paramount in the design of the Philippines’ strategy to boost tourism in the country. A conscious and collaborated effort toward making foreign visitors feel welcome and safe are needed to make their stay in the country most enjoyable,” added Puyat.
On the part of PDEA, they have agreed to deploy appropriate manpower to TOP-AID centers in DOT identified tourist destinations. These tourist assistance and complaint desks will focus on drug related concerns. They will also lead information drive on “Drug Free Workplace Program,” while assisting in drug clearing operations including apprehending any person engaged in illegal drug activities in coordination with the PNP and concerned local government units.
Meanwhile, other than identifying key tourist destinations with high-tourism traffic where TOP-AID centers may be put up, the DOT will also spearhead the training of these personnel on Tourism Awareness and the signature Filipino brand of service and hospitality that is world renowned.