A response from the hotel industry
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2015 - 10:00am

I got a response from my dear friend, Mr. Arthur Lopez, president of the Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc. (PHOAI) on the article we wrote about the Hotel Ratings issue last Tuesday. Arthur told me that last Oct. 6, 2015, he and his members apparently met with Department of Tourism (DOT) officials led by Sec. Ramon Jimenez, Maria Victoria Jasmin, Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation and Director Maria Rica Bueno, Office of Tourism and Standards Regulation.

Arthur told me that the meeting was very frank, positive and a cordial one. PHOAI apparently suggested to the DOT officials to create an adjudication body that would consist of DOT and respected retired managers of the hotel industry who are no longer related to any existing hotels in order to assure neutrality when problems arise as a result of questionable issues that would be raised in the Hotel Ratings program.

In that meeting, Sec. Jimenez even admitted that their Hotel Ratings program is far from perfect and it is a process that needs improvement. PHOAI officers then suggested that there should be a very basic criteria for the subjective rating system and the objective side should be left to the consumers or clients of the hotel. It was suggested that a “Guest Satisfaction” index should be provided in every hotel.

I’m glad that this meeting between PHOAI and the DOT took place because many issues can be resolved over a cup of coffee. From my understanding of this meeting, it seems that the PHOAI has already accepted the DOT’s Hotel Ratings program in all its admitted imperfections. But during that meeting, there was no mention of the $7 million Canadian grant money that was granted to the DOT. For the sake of their “Daang Matuwid” slogan and transparency, the DOT must come up with a full accounting of how this money was spent because they owe it to the Canadian government.

Frankly speaking, I find it strange that the Canadian Government would shell out $7 million for a program that Canada doesn’t even have. This is one question that I would certainly pose to my good friend, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder when he comes to Cebu for their annual Christmas party hosted by the Canadian Embassy.

While I do not dispute that fact that the DOT has already embarked on their Hotel Ratings program and therefore the folks who have business in the hotel industry have to accept whatever ratings they would exact on their respective hotels and resorts. This is why it is imperative that the DOT exercise a very high level of professionalism, because many Filipinos are just sick and tired of government agencies that were created to “regulate” the hotel industry and thanks to corruption, they end up being a burden to all.  

In Cebu, I had a talk with Mr. Manny Gonzales of Plantation Bay who believes that his resort was “victimized” by the Hotel Ratings of the DOT because he openly opposed this program. Unfortunately, Mr. Gonzales talked to me after the fact…when Plantation Bay was already downgraded by the DOT, which is why he filed a criminal charge against DOT officials in the Office of the Ombudsman. I’m not going to go into details on the elements of his case… but I’m just certain that given the snail-paced justice that we still have in this country…this case would last a long, long time.

Meanwhile Pres. Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III spoke before the 2015 FOCAP Presidential Forum and made this statement, “Expose corruption where it is found; bring injustice to our attention. You are well and free to do this because we will never suppress you; on the contrary, my administration will work with you to correct these wrongs.”

If I was in that forum I would have thrown this question to Pres. Aquino, “If you are really against corruption, why then did the Liberal Party admit Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza as the LP’s mayoralty bet in Lapu-Lapu City when she is facing a very long string of graft cases before the Sandiganbayan and in fact, she was recently slapped with a 90-day suspension for the 2002 Girls Scout scam?”

Call it bad timing that the LP kicked out the loyal LP partyman, Mr. Efrain Pelaez Jr., a businessman and honest civic leader who has fought the Radazas in Lapu-Lapu City, exposing their shenanigans. But since 2010, I have been warning Jun Pelaez that the LP would not give him their all-out support; but he did not listen to me. Then suddenly for this elections, the LP chose Mayor Radaza and left Jun Pelaez out in the cold.

Perhaps after he exits from Malacanang, P-Noy would ponder and ask himself…where did he go wrong? The answer is simple… he speaks great noble words in his speeches, but his actions belie the reality that he doesn’t really mean what he says! In short he is a true Filipino politician who speaks many words, but do not act on them.

*      *      *

Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com

ACIRC AQUINO CANADIAN AMBASSADOR CANADIAN EMBASSY CANADIAN GOVERNMENT DOT HOTEL HOTEL RATINGS JUN PELAEZ LAPU-LAPU CITY NBSP
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