Tourism childwise campaign pushed | Inquirer News
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Tourism childwise campaign pushed

/ 03:04 PM August 15, 2013

A CAMPAIGN to prevent child sex tourism and increase awareness of the problem will be launched in Cebu by the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Saturday.

“We don’t want Cebu to be called a sex tourist destination or for pedophiles to come and take advantage of the hospitality of the people,” said Donald Balanhi, DOT national project officer.

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“Cebu is a beautiful place but children are not the attraction.”

Balanhi said the “Childwise Tourism Program” is a prevention program to fight commercial sex exploitation of children, by promoting respect for the rights of children and their protection.

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In recent years, raids of home-based cybsersex dens in Cordova town and the arrest of foreign tourists who checked into Cebu hotels and resorts in the company of minor children have highlighted the problem of child trafficking and abuse.

A motorcade will be held from Mactan Newtown to Mandaue City then to the Provincial Capitol in Cebu city and the Plaza Independencia on Saturday.

About 70 grade school children from cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Cordova town will gather at the plaza where native Filipino games (larong pinoy), a poster making contest and cosplay event will be held.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Tourism Undersecretary Ma. Victoria Jasmin Officials will attend the launching.

On Friday, an orientation seminar of the program will be held in the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) with speakers from the Department of Justice, Department of tourism, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Philippine National Police.

The Childwise Program targets 14 destinations in the country and was previously launched in Bohol, Puerto Princesa in Palawan and Boracay.

DOT’s accreditation of hotels, resorts, and pension houses will include compliance with a Child Protection Policy in the classification of these establishments.

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“This new policy can be an added point for their star-rating,” said Marion Barrientos , DOT 7 project officer.

He said the accreditation will start by next year after the DOT identifies third-part inspectors to join the DOT in the process.

“We are trying our best to make this child protection policy mandatory for all the establishments,”he added.

Other standards for accreditation will include the provision of at least two rooms for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in each establishment, and energy conservation.

“If an establishment meets all these standards, it has a chance of upgrading its classification,” he said.

Asked if the DOT has identified any erring establishments so far, Barrientos said none were recorded in the past ten years.

“As of now , we only heard rumors but still we need to verify them,” he said.

Most hotels in Cebu are accredited by the DOT but only 40 percent of the resorts, especially those in the province, are covered, he said.

“That is why we are local government units to adopt the law of accreditation for beach resorts located in the province,” he told CDN.

“We are willing to entertain calls and concerns about establishments that engage in child sex tourism,” he added. /Correspondent Michelle Joy L. Padayhag

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TAGS: campaign, Cebu, child sex tourism, Department of Tourism (DOT), Donald Balanhi, News, prevention
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