ILOILO City – “Disturbing events” sullying Iloilo’s image has prompted a nonprofit, private sector-led organization to lead a campaign countering these.

Tomorrow, the Iloilo Economic and Development Foundation, Inc. (ILED) will launch the “Proud to be Ilonggo” campaign.

“Recent disturbing events have attempted to tarnish the good image of Iloilo when it has been chosen by various groups as one of the most liveable places in the Philippines, one of the best places to invest in, and as a model of good governance,” according to ILED chairman Narzalina Lim.

President Rodrigo Duterte has tagged Iloilo the “most shabulized” in the country and a “bedrock of illegal drugs.”

He has also repeated accused – without providing evidence or filing charges – this city’s Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of being a protector of illegal drugs.

Lim, a former secretary of the Department of Tourism, said Ilonggos from various sectors – business, professional, civil society, youth, academe, women, religious, and media – should craft their “own destiny and work together as self-reliant private citizens; to continue the upward trajectory that the city and province have been experiencing these past 10 years.”

“Proud to be Ilonggo” will focus on two important pillars: economic development and tourism.

For the economic development pillar, Lim said an investment forum would be organized in Manila tentatively scheduled in March 2018.

For the tourism pillar, Lim said work should focus on increasing the number of tourists visiting Iloilo.

ILED has also invited Police Regional Office director Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag to the “Proud to be Ilonggo” launching. He has been asked to address Iloilo’s peace and order concerns.

In a speech at the 120th anniversary of the Presidential Security Group on June 28, President Duterte described Iloilo a “bedrock” of illegal drugs.

“I had an occasion to say it in public that it was Iloilo who (sic) was the bedrock of…kasi doon dinadaan e,” said Duterte whose campaign promise during the 2016 elections was to eradicate criminality and illegal drugs.

It was unclear if the President was referring to Iloilo City or the province.

“Then (illegal drugs) spread to the Visayas,” said the tough-talking Chief Executive.

Last Aug. 7, 2016 “most shabu-lized” was how Duterte described Iloilo as he linked four mayors, including Iloilo City’s Mabilog, and several police officers to drug trafficking.

Shabu is methamphetamine hydrochloride that, according to the police, is the most popular illegal drug in the country.

The President said local chief executives and “gangs” control the distribution of illegal drugs in the region.

The “Proud to be Ilonggo” campaign will be launched at The Mansion (formerly Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center)./PN


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