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DOT chief apologizes over attached agency exec’s behavior

MANILA, Philippines — Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco yesterday apologized to senators over the inappropriate behavior of an official who texted the senators to ask for VIP treatment for the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the budget deliberations.

Frasco personally apologized during the Senate plenary deliberations at past midnight yesterday after Cynthia Lagdameo Carrion, general manager of the DOT-attached agency Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), drew senators’ ire for her barrage of text messages demanding that the DOT be fielded first in the interpellation.

The final stretch of the government budget deliberations started last Monday morning and ended before dawn yesterday, apparently getting on the nerves of Carrion, who is more known in the sports sector as president of the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines.

Carrion is also a close friend of former president and incumbent Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, serving as the latter’s tourism undersecretary and also commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission.

“We’ve been working here waiting for all departments to be deliberated upon. We are doing our job. No one has the right to tell us to stop talking here. Who are you to tell us to stop asking questions?” Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said, addressing Carrion, who was made to sit on the plenary floor.

“It was very surprising that this person, who was a family friend of mine, has been texting insulting messages, like to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, to stop asking questions, because you want the DOT to be next in line,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said, referring to Hontiveros’ interpellation of another agency before the DOT.

“That is not proper. That is inappropriate,” Zubiri added.

A fuming Hontiveros also took the floor to manifest her disappointment at Carrion’s “sense of entitlement” to demand that the senators adjust their time to accommodate the DOT.

“This is about respect. We are just doing our mandate here. I take offense that our institution is being texted such messages,” Hontiveros said.

When allowed to speak on behalf of the agency, Frasco said she was also appalled at the “highly inappropriate, unacceptable and