Sarangani Bay festival cancelled in support of martial law
DAVAO CITY — The Sarangani Bay Festival has been officially cancelled this year.
“We have cancelled this year’s Sarangani Bay Festival,” Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon said.
Solon said this year’s festival – which should have started Thursday, was scrapped “to show the provincial government’s support for the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday night placing the whole Mindanao under Martial Law.”
“Movements in terms of security have been mobilized to ensure the safety of the festival” but it has been on “the moral ground that Sarangani Province cannot celebrate while our brothers in Marawi are distressed,” Solon said in a statement.
Known as Sarbay and touted to be the country’s biggest annual beach festival, the three-day event that features water sports competitions, concerts and trade shows drew 150,000 tourists in 2016.
“All the day and night activities will be postponed and this is a strong statement by the province that although we have prepared, the security is tight and ready, but we are in protest against acts of terrorism and this is also the reason why we are cancelling the event to protest terrorism in the Philippines,” Solon said.
Solon said he had decided that holding the Sarbay Festival was “not right” while Marawi was under siege. “Hindi tugma sa ating protest against terrorism.” (This does not mix well with our protest against terrorism.)
The provincial information office said organizers of the Sarbay fest were meeting with the concessionaires to explain to them why the event had to be postponed in 2017.
The cancellation of the Sarbay festival signalled that the Marawi conflict has started to affect tourism in Mindanao.
In Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte, earlier advised tourists to “use prudence in planning their activities inside or outside the city.”
Tourists, she said, were also discouraged from going into areas not identified as tourist destinations.
“They should also bring IDs with them all the time,” she said.
The Davao City tourism office still could not say if the declaration of martial law has affected the tourist arrivals.
But in Agusan del Sur, the celebration of the 8-day Naliyagan Festival 2017 in the province on June 10-17 will push through as scheduled despite the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Manuel Rosaut, president of the Naliyagan Stakeholders Foundation, Inc., said in a statement that violent extremism and its ideologies would not stop them from celebrating their culture and heritage highlighted in the Naliyagan Festival.
Rosaut, however, urged residents in the province to be vigilant and cooperate by reporting to authorities any suspicious acts that could disrupt the celebration amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. SFM/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.