By Tara Yap
Iloilo City—Reacting to the barrage of criticism from President Rodrigo Duterte, the Iloilo business community launched over the weekend a campaign to revamp the image of the city and province of Iloilo.
“We want to shore up the pride of the Ilonggos to take responsibility for their own community,” said Narzalina Lim, chairperson of the Iloilo Economic and Development Foundation, Inc. (ILED).
The “Proud to be Ilonggo” campaign is meant to counter the claims of Duterte that Iloilo is the “bedrock” of the illegal drug trade and that the city is the most “shabulized,” a term he coined to refer to the rampant trafficking of the substance.
The Ilonggo businessmen said the President made the claims without validated data.
They said that over the past decade, Iloilo has experienced unprecedented growth. It saw a rise in multi-billion investments from multi-national corporations and the backing of infrastructure development by the national government.
“Recent events have put Iloilo in the spotlight that has unfortunately threatened to derail the progress that has been made,” said ILED President Jocelyn Jalandoni-Perez.
“As peace loving Ilonggos, we must ensure we do what we can to stay on track. We need to reaffirm our pride in Iloilo and to declare Iloilo as ready as ever to take its place among the most livable and business friendly locations,” said Jalandoni-Perez.
Lim, a former tourism secretary, admitted the President’s tirades against Iloilo has made the business circle in Metro Manila wary.
Former ILED chairperson Rex Drilon II urged the academe, religious, arts, and government sectors to form action plans after the President made Iloilo a “punching bag.”