The cost for a DOT fiasco

Beleaguered Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim does not have to worry about his popularity.  If we were to believe a recent survey, Lim was actually the second most popular Cabinet official.

Believe it or not, the survey was topped by  Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, who is also the target of a congressional inquiry  into the controversial P10 billion Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate, or Peace bonds,  which are due to mature to the tune of P35 billion next year.

The President wouldn’t even let Lim go over the “Pilipinas  kay Ganda” campaign fiasco, and so his public apology was enough. Vicente Romano III, the tourism undersecretary for planning and promotion, took all the blame, and out of delicadeza resigned from his post.

Romano claimed full responsibility for the final design prepared by the Campaigns and Grey headed by Yolly Villanueva Ong, although he insisted that he did not plagiarize, but only got inspiration from  Poland’s Polska tourism logo. Obviously, he had his own definition of plagiarism, which he said  was “often a major part of the creative process” in the arts.

At least, Romano had the dignity of resigning, unlike other officials who had committed major scandalous mistakes, and yet were given a second lease in their political adventure in government by Malacanang.

But Lim was unrepentant. He even claimed that it was part of a smear campaign by his alleged critics in the “anti-open skies” movement. So, he need not resign and even had the gall to say that the President wanted him to stay. That simple.

Malacanang also issued a statement saying that President Aquino was behind Lim, even as a number for lawmakers have already threatened to derail his conformation in the congressional Commission on Appointments.

The Palace also echoed Lim’s claim, repeating the Lim mantra that some people in the tourism industry
“are against his views on the liberalized aviation policies, and this is just a convenient excuse for
them to use this issue against Secretary Lim.”

Now that he’s going to remain as the country’s No. 1 tourism promoter, Lim  must have to answer for the expenses they incurred for the branding fiasco.

Records showed that Lim, along with Theresa M. Martinez, his undersecretary for administration, were the signatories for the National Treasury check issued to the Tourism Promotion Board, totaling
P3,771,355.000 and issued last Oct. 18 for the project. It was supposedly approved in pre-audited documents by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Perhaps Lim should also start explaining why they spent P712,790 for the  so-called “Preview of Brand Philippines,” splurging for the one-day affair at the Oceana, San Miguel by the Bay,  Mall of Asia last Nov. 15.

Will he be able to answer also for the supplemental budget approved by Romano and prepared by a certain Raquel Tria, which covered for the additional graphics requirement of P356,000 and P42,435 in additional buffet complement for the launching, which totaled to P398,435?

Perhaps the DOT can verify unconfirmed reports that the production house and the technical equipment and graphic services provider were a mere front used by the company of  a daughter of one tourism undersecretary and that of a brother. Total expenses incurred for their expenses reached P998,000.

We were made to believe that government is serious in its austerity measure since Mr. Aquino has proven that he can lead by example from the day he was sworn into office.

But if the tourism guys led by Lim cannot justify their expenses, the next tourism logo should not include a road in its design because the PNoy had promised us a “tuwid na daan,” not a crooked one. Joel Paredes

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