Investors, tourists concerned about terrorism, not martial law: Lopez

MANILA — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Saturday allayed fears that all investors are hesitant to invest in Marawi City and Mindanao solely because of martial law and its proposed extension period.

“Sa langaran ng investment, lahat po ng aming nakakausap ay walang nararamdaman na panganib pagdating sa investment decision kasi ang investment ay naka-base sa long-term prospects (In the field of investment, the investors we talk to do not feel any fear when it comes to making investment decisions),” Lopez told Congress during its special joint session to deliberate and vote on the extension of the period of martial law in Mindanao.

“It’s not martial law they are concerned about, it’s terrorism. Martial law provides that comfort level,” he added.

Lopez made the remark in response to neophyte Sen. Joel Villanueva’s interpellation, asking about the negative impacts of martial law and its proposed extension.

Tourism Undersecretary Ronaldo Canizal, for his part, acknowledged that while there have been reported cancellation of bookings to the Philippines, he said this did not affect the overall foreign arrivals to the Philippines.

“The declaration of martial law in Mindanao has recorded cancellations but the cancellation does not mean that there is a stop in the number of tourists,” Canizal said.

“Some of them (tourists) have deferred their visit to certain areas or moved their destination to other areas. Overall, as of May this year, the total number has increased by 19 percent and January to May, we are still a positive at 14 percent.”

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that arrivals for the month of May 2017 reached a total of 532,757, or an increase of 19.6 percent, compared to 445,449 in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, from January to May 2017, arrivals reached 2.88 million, marking a 14.43 percent increase from the same period in 2016 with only 2.52 million.

This increase was driven by stronger marketing efforts abroad and from hosting high-profile, big-ticket international events in the Philippines in the past five months. ANP/FMC/