Iloilo City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has assured that the city and province of Iloilo is a safe destination.
Helen Catalbas, the DOT regional director for Western Visayas, gave the assurance after President Rodrigo Duterte tagged Iloilo as the most “shabulized” or shabu-infested place last August 7.
The President named as narco-politicians are Mayors Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, Siegfredo Betita of Carles town, Alex Centena of Calinog town, and Mariano Malones Sr. of Maasin town.
Duterte included in the list several police officers who were previously or currently assigned in Iloilo.
Catalbas acknowledged the existence of the illegal drug trade in the region but added there are no serious threats to tourists in Iloilo and the rest of Western Visayas.
“There are no kidnappings here or terror threats,” she told Manila Bulletin.
More than 1 million tourists visited the city and province of Iloilo last year.
Iloilo is known for its annual Dinagyang Festival, noodle broth Lapaz batchoy and heritage sites.
The DOT is also promoting beach destinations in Carles town, particularly Gigantes Islands and Sicogon Island, which is being redeveloped by Ayala Land Inc.
There are diving sites in San Joaquin town and eco-tourism in Bucari, Leon town.
Meanwhile, Iloilo Business Club Executive Director Lea Lara urged the Duterte administration to prove the allegations against the officials he has named.
Lara noted how national corporations have taken into consideration the peace and order situation when it decided to pour billions of pesos in investments in Iloilo.