Press Release
November 27, 2006

Recto: Ask them to go whale shark- watching instead
Govt told theres money in protest tourism
Tap Querol, Aglipay in linking with NGOs
Nationwide ban on rallies will boomerang on RP

Government was reminded there is money in protest tourism and that it better coordinate with civil society groups so the parallel meetings they plan to hold during the Asean Summit in Cebu next month will be peaceful and orderly.

The activist jet-set is coming to town with their dollars , in droves that could outnumber delegates to the official Asean Summit , " Recto said.

So instead of feeding them to the sharks why not ask them to go whale shark-watching in Sorsogon or whale-watching in Bohol instead ? Recto said.

The senator was referring to the threat of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales that troublemakers who would mar summit proceedings would be fed to the sharks.

Defending Gonzales, Recto said the remarks of the former were said in jest and should be taken as a joke , a witty sound bite, and only the gullible would take his threat seriously.

Recto said government officials should begin liaising with civil society groups on how they can hold activities without disrupting meetings associated with the summit or endangering the safety of its participants.

I have been told that some of the activities will be held in Manila so theres no way that these would directly affect the Cebu meetings," he said.

Recto urged Malacanang to tap the services of two veteran de facto street parliamentarians," retired police generals Vidal Querol and Edgardo Aglipay in coordinating with NGOs on how to they can hold their meetings in orderly fashion.

Both former police chiefs of the National Capital Region, Querol and Aglipay were always able to work out an arrangement with rally organizers during their watch, Recto said .

Recto said an outright nationwide ban on rallies during the summit will boomerang to the country. Even the Chinese didnt stop rallies in Hong Kong when the WTO was held there. They know that if violence will break out, it will overshadow the official activities.

But if NGO-sponsored activities in Cebu will become unruly, Recto said the government has the right to enforce the law when public safety is already threatened.

To prevent this, we can tell these globetrotting activists in advance to follow our rules because frankly we 'd rather see them spending their dollars here than spending time in our jails , he said.

He said the DOT can organize alternative tours tailor-made for foreign activists. The itinerary can include a visit to Ninoy Aquinos statue in Makati ; EDSA, the site of two People Power; the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City; and of course, Fort Santiago and Luneta."

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