Governor Arthur Y. Pingoy Jr. is saddened by the inclusion of South Cotabato as one of the places not safe for travel as per travel advisory issued by the United States and the Australian Government.
Based on the review of the Aussie government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the level of advice for Central and Western Mindanao (including the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Cotabato City, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Saranggani, Misamis Occidental, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and the Sulu Archipelago) remains at “Do not travel”.
The re-issuance of the travel advice was due to “very high threat of terrorist attack kidnapping, and violent crime. Armed clashes between Philippine security forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or other armed groups could occur anywhere, anytime in Central and Western Mindanao”.
|Gov. Pingoy on the travel ban issue: "Let this be a challenge for all of us to work hard and show them what we got."|
The advisory states, “the targeted sites may be public gathering places including, but not limited to, airports, shopping malls, conference centers, and other public venues. This Travel Warning, and updates specific regions of concern and reflects continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities”.
“If we take a look at these advisories, it seems that nobody will come to our place; but we know that this is not the true situation happening all over Mindanao,” Pingoy said.
Despite the travel ban, Pingoy is more challenged to bring in more Balikbayans to show the world that South Cotabato is a peaceful and beautiful place to visit especially on the celebration of its 45th Founding Anniversary and 12th T’nalak Festival in July.
“The balikbayans who will come over will be the witness on how safe and memorable their stay would be in our province,” he said.
He is banking on the visitors and balikbayans to be the ambassadors of goodwill who will tell the world the beauty and the warmth of hospitality of the South Cotabateños.
Invitations have been sent out globally to reach out to these balikbayans abroad.
The province has also intended one evening dubbed as “Dayon sa South Cotabato”- An Evening with the Governor on July 17, from its week-long festivities slated on July 12 to18.
The province is also soon to set up an audio-visual presentation (AVP) at the departure area of the nearby General Santos City airport as a show window of what are in-store for visitors and balikbayans during their stay in the province.
“These travel advisories should not hinder us to achieve greater heights. Instead, let this be a challenge for all of us to work hard and show them what we got,” Pingoy said. (PIO South Cotabato)