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The National Tourism Policy Act of 2009, aka the Philippines’ much-hyped about “buffer” against the onslaught of the global economic crisis, was finally signed into law yesterday by PGMA, along with RA 9593 “declaring a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development.” The new law “reorganizes the Philippine Tourism Authority into the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority mandated to designate, regulate and supervise tourism enterprise zones and to develop, manage and supervise tourism projects in the country.” Tourism secretary Ace Durano said the Tourism Act “gives the DOT and the sector a broader policy support and expanded budgetary support system.”

More: GMA signs into law national tourism policy bill

But while cabinet officials are quick to paint rosy predictions in relation to the promulgation of the new law, they fail, and rather predictably so, to address dubious provisions in the law itself. According to IBON Foundation, an independent think-tank group, “the reclassification of lands for tourism means only one thing for rural families: the large-scale physical and economic displacement of farmers and fisherfolk communities.”

“The government’s apparent fixation on tourism is merely another illustration of how skewed and anti-people its economic policies are,” IBON adds. “While government allocates billions of pesos to infrastructure development to support tourists and potential investors and promotes tourism for foreign tourism corporations, it encourages the displacement of agricultural communities and continues to default on their much-needed support and subsidy.”

More: Tourism Act 2009: More land grabbing, more displacement


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