Misamis Oriental governor stands pat on travel advisory

MISAMIS Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano said Monday, March 6, that he will not withdraw the advisory for tourists planning on trekking the province's mountain ranges, some of which are affected by the armed conflict between the government troops and the New People's Army (NPA).

Emano said he will wait for a written notice from the military and the police declaring the said areas as safe from threats from armed groups. 

Emano maintained he had to issue a notice of suspension for tourists to temporarily refrain from traversing the mountain ranges specifically Mt. Sumagaya and Mt. Lumot in Claveria town and Mt. Balatukan in Gingoog City due to the ongoing military operations.

The governor's March 1 order was coursed through the capitol's tourism and press offices.

"We had to issue a stoppage order for people who are mountain climbers, bikers and adventurers before it is too late," Emano said.

Emano said the capitol will have to take advanced measures since the Provincial Government do not have the capability to rescue people who might be caught in the crossfire.

"I will wait for the declaration from the army and PNP that it is already safe for tourists to go there," the official added.

Emano admitted that his order will have ill effects to the tourism industry of the province but he said he has to take the risks.

The governor apologized to all tourists who already made early reservations to resorts and operators and cancelled them.

"I apologized to the tourists and operators but I rather be safe than be sorry," Emano said.

The governor, whose flagship program is anchored on tourism, said it pains him to issue a temporary travel advisory being a staunch promoter of tourism.

"A lot of people are claiming that they are promoting tourism but I strongly believe that tourism was not known until I became governor," Emano said.

"But at some point I have to do something. What if somebody somehow kung dili mahostage, mapusilan? Mas dako nga balita," Emano added.

He also apologized to the Department of Tourism-Northern Mindanao which he said became apprehensive because of the advisory.

"At the end of the day dili man sila ang pangitaan it is always the chief executive of the province kung naay mahitabo. I know in the future they will be able to understand," he said.

The Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental invited on Monday, the military, police, Provincial Tourism Office head, representative of the regional tourism office and the Philippine Information Agency-Northern Mindanao, to shed light over the stoppage order that allegedly caused alarm to the tourism sector.

Vice-Governor Joey Pelaez said the news about the advisory was hot in social media, local and national news outlets which brought negative effects to the tourism sector.

"It is expensive to promote tourism but it was cheap to put the province in bad publicity," Pelaez said.

The military and the police said the province especially the towns affected by the military combat operations is now safe from threats of the NPA rebels.

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