Senators back DOT, Frasco despite ‘Love the Philippines’ campaign blunder

(ABS-CBN) MANILA — Several senators on Thursday threw their support behind the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its embattled secretary Christina Frasco following the controversy surrounding its new tourism slogan “Love the Philippines.”

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri in a statement said Filipinos should allow DOT to “correct this misstep, reflect on what happened, and improve its campaign going forward.”

“I believe that Secretary Frasco and the Department had no ill intent in this mishap, but I nevertheless expect them to take this incident very seriously, and hold accountable those who have wronged the Filipino people and the tourist spots that were replaced with alien places,” he said.

The DOT has been in hot water after unveiling its “enhanced” tourism slogan “Love the Philippines,” which replaced “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.” The new slogan was met with mixed response.

To make the matter even more complicated, DOT’s partner ad agency DDB Philippines drew flak for using stock footage for its “mood” video, with some of the clips allegedly shot in places outside the Philippines. 

The DOT is in the process of ending its contract with DDB over the fiasco but said it would continue to use the controversial new slogan.

But according to Zubiri, DOT’s actions should not stop there.

“The DOT leadership’s call to stick with their new campaign slogan is duly noted, but this should not be the end-all of the corrective process… I reiterate my call to all relevant agencies… to work closely with the DOT to improve our tourism infrastructures so that we can bring in to the country the much-needed billion tourism dollars,” Zubiri said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda meanwhile asked Filipinos to “unite” and help the DOT promote the Philippines’ tourism destinations.

“I stand in solidarity with the Department of Tourism and Secretary Christina Frasco… Let us unite to help and promote our beautiful country and in so doing generate jobs and bring about sustainable livelihoods,” she said.

Senators Robin Padilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Sherwin Gatchalian also issued statement of support to DOT and Frasco.

“The Department of Tourism’s prompt response and responsible handling of the situation deserves recognition. The DOT exemplified accountability and commitment to learning from this incident,” Estrada said.

“I hope that as we recover from this controversy, we will unite under our flag to promote our country’s tourism as Filipinos who love their country,” Padilla said.

“Issues have been brought out and discussed, mistakes have been acknowledged both by the DOT and the advertising agency. Isn’t the purpose of criticism to correct? So mission accomplished,” Cayetano said.

“I commend the prompt response of the Department of Tourism, under the able leadership of Secretary Christina Frasco, in launching an investigation into the ‘Love The Philippines’ video. The department’s immediate termination of its contract with advertising agency DDB is also noteworthy,” Gatchalian said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lito Lapid suggested that the DOT integrate the country’s previous tourism slogans into the new campaign. 

“Whatever slogan is used, it is just one message. For me, we must join our hands and pursue a better tourism campaign to attract more foreign and local tourists which I dubbed as ‘Wow, It’s more Fun! Love, the Philippines!’,” Lapid said.

In contrast, Sen. Nancy Binay, chairperson of the Senate Tourism panel, on Wednesday asked the DOT to junk the “Love the Philippines” slogan as it has become “unsalvageable” and a “laughing stock” among some Filipino social media users.