Lawyer. Senator. Volunteer.

News Press Releases Gordon calls for prompt recovery of Odette-affected areas, pushes for financial aid to help MSMEs

Gordon calls for prompt recovery of Odette-affected areas, pushes for financial aid to help MSMEs

January 18, 2022 Press Releases
Gordon calls for prompt recovery of Odette-affected areas, pushes for financial aid to help MSMEs

Re-electionist Senator Richard J. Gordon today called for the initiation of early recovery in areas ravaged by Typhoon Odette, particularly Bohol, Cebu, Palawan, and Siargao islands, which host thousands of tourists regularly.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate government corporations and public enterprises committee, said immediate financial assistance can jumpstart the local economy in Cebu, Palawan, Bohol, and Siargao islands that have been affected since the start of the pandemic.

“The resolution calls for immediate initiation of the early recovery of all areas affected by Typhoon Odette such as Bohol, Cebu, the Dinagat Islands, and Siargao, to help the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and dislocated businesses and provide support in the form of loans from GOCC and other banks,” said Gordon during his privilege speech. 

“[It also calls] on leadership by all appropriate government agencies, in order to rekindle tourism, especially grassroots, back-to-nature tourism, to create livelihood, foster self-help, self-reliance, and cooperation among the people, and to jumpstart tourism activities, local economies therein, and the national economy,” he added.

Gordon, author of RA 9593, today filed Senate Resolution (SR) 997, which seeks to provide loans to reinvigorate local tourism, especially the damaged tourist sites, and create livelihood for MSMEs and other dislocated businesses.

Odette (international name: Rai) was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2021.  Uprooting trees, toppling power lines, smashing windows, and wiping out houses, it reportedly caused an estimated PhP 20.16-billion worth of damage to tourism, PhP 20 billion in the island of Siargao alone.

The areas were in the midst of a renaissance caused by an uptick of tourism foot traffic as the Philippines’ number of COVID-19 cases fell sharply just as the typhoon struck.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, explained that the areas could make the most out of the situation by leaning towards “muscular tourism,” a concept that will urge tourists in going back to the basics as the amenities were stripped bare by Mother Nature.

“Kung mabubuksan natin kaagad ang mga airports, iminumungkahi ko na magkaroon ng ‘muscular tourism.’ Puwedeng maglagay ng ihawan, magtinda ng pakonti-konti para may mabibilhan ang mga turistang dumarating, iyong mga backpacker,” he said.

According to Gordon, tourism is one of the major drivers of the Philippine economy, accounting for 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, a huge decline from the 12.7 percent it offered before the pandemic in 2019.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas estimated that around 36 percent of the country’s GDP was represented by the typhoon-stricken areas. Yolanda, considered as one of the most devastating storms ever, amounted to five percent.

Cebu and the Visayas islands were named by international lifestyle magazine Condé Nast Traveler also named Cebu and the Visayas islands as Asia’s top islands to visit. Siargao, on the other hand, was named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2021 by TIME Magazine not only for its consistent waves but an ongoing development to strengthen tourism infrastructure.      Under Gordon’s stint as the tourism secretary under the Arroyo administration from 2001-04, the country ran the successful “WOW Philippines” campaign, which rejuvenated foreign interest, and gained international acclaim.