The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently led various government agencies in the signing of a covenant that seeks to ensure better protection for women and children involved in the country’s tourism industries.
The country’s tourism agency presented its newest program termed the Tourism Integrates, Supports, and Minds Women’s Respect and Child Safety (TourISM WoRCS Program) during the covenant signing held on August 13.
In her keynote address at the covenant signing, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat stressed the importance of keeping the nation’s people safe from potential risks as the Philippines welcomes more foreign tourist arrivals.
“As we celebrate the world-renowned hospitality of the Filipino and the characteristic readiness of our people to please at all cost, it is also incumbent upon us to ensure that we give equal protection to the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Like how we value and protect our natural attractions and safeguard our diverse cultures, it is also our responsibility that our people, particularly our women and children, are free from harm, abuse, much more from any sexual exploitation and human trafficking,” Secretary Puyat declared.
DOT says the TourISM WoRCS program will initiate a series of training and seminars that promote sustainable tourism practices with special focus on ensuring that the rights of children and women are protected.
The new tourism program will also facilitate the establishment of “child safe and women in tourism” focal persons in every regional office.
“The DOT is also committed to help train tourism front liners, empowering them to play a role in prevention, reporting and responding to the need to protect women’s and children’s rights. In fact, we have put in place a policy that requires tourism workers such as tour guides, to learn about GAD and CST,” added the tourism chief.
An Inter-agency Working Group for Child Safe Tourism Philippines will be established to provide Child Safe information to travelers in the Philippines.
The 11 Tourism Covenant signatories include the following:
1. Executive Director Dolores Alforte of End Child Prostitution
2. Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) PH
3. Renay Farrel of Friends International
4. Jose Clemente of Tourism Congress of the Philippines
5. PBGen. William Macavinta of Philippine National Police (PNP)
6. Exec. Dir Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy of Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC)
7. Asec. Roosque Calacat of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
8. Asec. George Ortha II of Department of Justice (DOJ)
9. OIC-Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Josephine Maribojoc of the Department of Education (DepEd)
10. Janet Ramos of CFO
11. Cecille Gutierrez of Philippine Commission on Women (PCW)
There were 2 previous versions of the tourism safety program for children, the Child Wise Tourism Program in 2006 which evolved as the Child Safe Tourism (CST) program in 2014. The new TourISM WoRCS presents itself as the comprehensive version incorporating gender and development (GAD) concerns and interventions.
Secretary Puyat issued a stern warning to violators of rights of children and women. “We certainly do not need tourists in the Philippines who would prey on the young and women. I look forward to the day when we would not have to report about children or women who suffer at the hands of sex predators, a time when child-sex tourism and women trafficking will just be painful lessons in history. That would come. But today, we have the battle to win, and win, we will.”
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