7 senators support Frasco

(PHILSTAR) CEBU, Philippines — At least seven senators have expressed their support for Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco of the Department of Tourism amid the controversial tourism campaign video.

Those who continue to have trust on Frasco include Senators Bong Go; Ramon Revilla, Jr.; Robinhood Padilla; Francis Tolentino; Pia Cayetano; Sonny Angara; and Jinggoy Estrada.

Go, a member of the Senate committee on tourism, said that the public should not lose sight of what the “Love the Philippines” campaign really is, which is all about loving the Philippines and sharing the love that Filipinos are known for.

Go said that Filipinos must work together to correct any mistake, improve efforts to promote the country, and give support to the efforts being done by the present administration in uplifting the economy and the lives of the poor.

According to Go, what is important is the sincerity of doing the job in serving the country and ensure no public funds gone to waste.

“I continue to support Tourism Sec. Christina Garcia Frasco and the rest of DOT for their efforts to further improve our country’s tourism sector. I laud their immediate actions in addressing the issue that the promotional video has caused and in ensuring that public funds are not wasted. Instead of dwelling on the problem, let us work together to provide solutions,” Go said in a statement.

Revilla commended DOT for its swift action of exacting accountability from the ad agency DDB Philippines.

He said the efforts of Frasco in the past year to help rehabilitate local industries tremendously affected with the global shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should not be obscured by the failure and mistake of DDB Philippines.

“As we start to rise from the ruins of the global pandemic, may we find strength in coming together towards showing the entire world not only the beauty of our country and all its over 7,000 islands, but as well as our resilient Filipino spirit, our bayanihan, and our unity amidst adversity,” said Revilla.

Angara also shared the same sentiment.

“What the DOT has done over the past two years following the pandemic has been remarkable and with Sec. Frasco leading the charge in declaring the Philippines open for tourists, I am confident that Philippine tourism will be able to reach new heights and the world will come to know the many reasons to Love the Philippines,” Angara said.

Angara also pointed out that under Frasco’s leadership the Philippines has received six nominations in the World Travel Awards Asia namely: Asia’s Leading Island Destination; Asia’s Leading Beach Destination; Asia’s Leading Dive Destination; Intramuros as Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction; Cebu as Asia’s Leading Wedding Destination; and the DOT as Asia’s Leading Tourist Board.

For Tolentino, Frasco’s decisive move to terminate the contract with the ad agency pending investigation demonstrates her steadfast commitment to uphold excellence in the DOT.

“Her integrity and competence will continue to revitalize the country’s tourism industry as we emerge from the recent global pandemic. I urge all stakeholders to support Sec. Frasco in her efforts to promote the Philippines as a top tourist destination in the world,” Tolentino added.

Cayetano said it is sad that the good intention of Frasco in promoting the tourist destinations in the country is being tainted by the ad agency.

“Tourism Sec. Christina Frasco was quick to call out the failures of said agency and to proceed with termination proceedings. What has happened is truly regrettable, but it’s time to pick up the pieces and focus on promoting our country’s breathtaking destinations,” Cayetano said.

Estrada also said that mistakes happen but it is how we respond and rectify them that truly matters and DOT’s prompt response and responsible handling of the situation deserves recognition.

“The DOT exemplified accountability and commitment to learning from this incident. By swiftly acknowledging the gaffe and taking immediate steps to rectify it, the DOT, under the leadership of Sec. Christina Frasco demonstrated a dedication to maintaining the integrity of our tourism industry,” Estrada said.

“Malaki ang ating tiwala sa galing at kakayahan ni Secretary Christina Garcia-Fraso mula sa kanyang pagsusulong ng trabaho sa turismo, pagbuhay sa lokal na industriya, at pagtabo ng internasyunal na pagkilala para sa bansa sa gitna ng ating pagbangon sa pandemya,” Padilla also said.

Senator Nancy Binay, however, believes that the people behind the DOT’s enhanced branding should accept that “Love the Philippines” campaign is now in a marketing limbo.

“We appreciate the actions taken by the DOT against the ad agency. But the big question right now is whether or not to continue with the ‘Love’ campaign,” Binay said adding that “we need to accept that it really happens—marketing campaigns fail.”

However, she believes that move forward for DOT is to save the brand at all costs.

“We cannot afford to put to waste everything that we built for Philippine tourism. Let’s do the right thing to protect the integrity of the brand,” Binay said.

Binay said that tourism is a sensitive market citing political unrest, negative media, and people’s perceptions influence travelers’ decisions.

“Dahil nga sa nangyari, headline na tayo sa buong mundo. Naging laughing stock na ang slogan, at masyado nang tinamaan ang campaign. Nakakalungkot dahil sa unang tapak pa lamang, imbes na umarangkada ay umatras tayo,” she said.

Binay added that it is not wise for the DOT and the people behind the marketing campaign to insist on continuing with “Love the Philippines” given the negative impact brought by the video fiasco.

Binay said the goals set by the DOT has already tilted and shifted, noting that it may look good on paper, but the campaign was beaten and battered in the real world.

“The DOT’s enhanced campaign has lost the persuasion game. We all can sense the discombobulating algorithms which carry promotion-limiting consequences. The campaign has lost its redeeming value and has become unsalvageable—I hope the DOT is level-headed enough to accept this. We expect them to be agile and move forward from failure because we don’t want the slogan to become a national embarrassment and look like losers,” she said.

“Again, huwag nang ipilit. Hindi masama ang magkamali. LOVE was not meant to be. Let us all move on and just bring back the FUN to the Philippines,” Binay further said. —/FPL (FREEMAN)