, DECEMBER 15, 2007  (STAR) More tourists arrived in the country from January to October despite the deadly Glorietta 2 explosion, the Department of Tourism reported yesterday.

“From January to October, we have recorded a total of 2.5 million foreign visitors compared to 2.3 million international arrivals during the same period last year,” Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said.

In October alone, Durano said foreign visitors totaled 229,250 or 7.1 percent more than the 214,055 recorded in the same period last year.

The number of tourists swelled despite some foreign advisories against traveling to the Philippines in the aftermath of the Glorietta 2 blast, which killed 11 people and wounded more than a hundred others and was initially blamed on terrorists.

Based on DOT data, South Koreans represent the biggest number of foreign tourists at 522, 410, followed by visitors from the United States at 477,752, and Japan at 333,874. Bigger numbers of tourists also arrived from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

With the steady increase in the number of tourists, Durano said he is confident that tourist arrivals will breach the three million mark by yearend.

Meanwhile, police said the final report on the Glorietta 2 blast would be released next week.

“The final report will be out next week but I don’t have any idea of the content of the report,” National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Geary Barias said.

He also denied reports that he had recommended the filing of criminal charges against Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and the Makati City government for the incident.

“How can I make any recommendation when forensic experts are now in charge of the investigation?” Barias told The STAR.

Investigators and ALI are at loggerheads over what really caused the explosion. Police said earlier it was a gas explosion, a claim debunked by ALI.

Barias said forensic experts would have to establish the degree of the liability of people involved in the day-to-day operation of the mall, including contractors and administrators.

Chief Superintenden Luizo Ticman, director of the Southern Police District (SPD), said NBI experts are examining the pumps, switches, circuit breakers, and other electrical equipment in the basement of Glorietta 2 to determine what triggered the explosion.

Ticman said that the traumatic injuries suffered by the victims were inconsistent with a bomb explosion. He said no explosive residue was found in the skin and clothing of the victims or anywhere else at the blast site.

He said a bomb blast was ruled out because of the absence of a crater, improvised bomb parts, or soot on the ceiling of the basement. – Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Suerte Felipe

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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