House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez  defends the June 1-6 2017 expedition of congressmen to Northern Luzon which critics have derided as an “outing” of congressmen after the legislature adjourned its first regular session, sine die.

The “North Luzon Inspection Trip covered  La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Ifugao, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Baguio City, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga to continue its inspection of the country’s roads and highways, vital infrastructures, and installations to ensure the maximum benefit, comfort and safety of the Filipino people.

Social media critics however pounced on the trip after the itinerary of the trip released to media showed that among the activities were meals and  stays at resorts and hotels in Thunderbird  La Union, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, the Sand Dunes in Laoag Ilocos Norte, the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Ambuklao Hydroelectric Plant, Baguio City, Pangasinan,  Las Casas, Bagac Bataan, Fontana Pampanga as well as a yachting and cruise in Subic.

Alvarez however stressed it was not fancy, “alam mo subukan kaya nila yung ginawa namin kung madali ba imbes na magpahinga kami nagiikot  kami sa lahat ng probinsiya yung congressman sumasakay ng bus isipin mo naman yan magsheshare ng kwarto isang kwarto apat  yan ba ay outing?”

Alvarez pointed out that it was a working trip as they conducted committee hearings that  allowed them to see for themselves the problems in tourist spots in the places they visited. “tapos nagkaocnduct kami ng committee heraings ano nakita namin banaue pinabayaan nasa unesco pumunta ka ng banaue ang pangit bakit  di natin inalagaan yun kaya sabi ko nga etong department of tourism  yung bduget nila kailangan erongr ehabilitation yan kasi  national heritage yan eh napabayaan tapos gusto natin yung tourism dumadami yung tirusta na dumadatings a ating bansa local and foreign pero how can you promote tourism kung ganiyan  ano na yan mga destination”

The “North Luzon Inspection Trip” is inspired by the success of the historic “First House of Representatives Western and Eastern Nautical HighwayExpedition” held from March 17 to 27, 2017 during which House members checked on the status of roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ports and facilities, roads and highways, and infrastructures, among others. The Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Inspection Expedition started off in Manila going to Mindoro and Iloilo then to Mindanao and the Visayas Region. It passed by the Bicol Region, Quezon and Batangas on its way back to Manila.

about 100 district and party-list lawmakers  manifested their desire to be part of the expedition which also included executive agencies like  the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

In his report to Congress during the plenary session last May 10, Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas (1st District, Ilocos Norte) submitted the Ad Hoc Committee report on the “First House of Representatives Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Expedition” which was the first part of the Speaker’s Highways Inspection Project.

Fariñas said the Speaker wanted the undertaking to assist the House Members during the budget deliberations in identifying priority areas that need budgetary support, reviewing all budget proposals of concerned agencies, and identifying which projects the Filipino people will mostly benefit from.