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‘Shabulized’ Iloilo still safe for tourists

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT-6) assures that the city and province of Iloilo is still a safe destination.

Atty. Helen Catalbas, DOT-6 regional director, gave this assurance after President Rodrigo Duterte considered Iloilo as the most “shabulized” when he named alleged drug protectors last Sunday.

Included in Duterte’s list of narco-politicians are Mayors Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, Siegfredo “Onting” Betita of Carles town, Mariano “Mar” Malones Sr. of Maasin town, and Alex Centena of Calinog town.

Duterte also named several officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) assigned or previously in Iloilo, the regional capital of Western Visayas (Region 6).

Catalbas noted that while illegal drug trade exists, Iloilo and the rest of Western Visayas region is generally peaceful with no major threats posed to tourists.

“There are no kidnappings here or terrorist threats,” Catalbas noted.

More than one million tourists flocked to various sites in the city and province of Iloilo last year.

Iloilo City is known for its annual Dinagyang Festival, which pays homage to the Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus).

DOT-6 has been in the forefront of promoting various tourism destinations including diving sites in southern Iloilo town of San Joaquin and eco-tourism in central Iloilo town of Leon.

There’s also northern Iloilo, particularly the town of Carles. Islas de Gigantes (Gigantes Islands) has gained popularity for its white-sand beaches, caves and saltwater lagoon. There’s also Sicogon Island, which preceded Boracay Island in popularity and is being redeveloped by Ayala Land Inc. (Tara Yap)