The Daily Manila Shimbun


Tourism chief asks Robredo, media to tone down on alleged extrajudicial killings

March 22, 2017

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo urged on Wednesday Vice President Leni Robredo, as well as media, to tone down on alleged extrajudicial killings as this could affect the country's tourism industry. In a press conference in Thailand where he joined President Rodrigo Duterte's official trip, Teo admitted whenever she promotes the country, she receives questions regarding  alleged extrajudicial killings. "I have a great respect for VP Leni...(with the) statements like that, we find it hard to sell the Philippines," she said referring to the video message sent by Robredo's office to the United Nations. In that message, Robredo criticized the alleged summary killings of those allegedly involved in illegal drugs. In her video statement uploaded on YouTube, Robredo called on Duterte to respect the rule of law, “instead of blatant disregard for it.” “We ask him to uphold basic human rights enshrined in our constitution, instead of encouraging its abuse,” Robredo said, adding  “very grim statistics” reveal that more than 7,000 people have been killed in summary executions. "We hope, this does not refer only to VP Leni, but to the media, let us tone down a bit these extrajudicial killings (reports)," Teo said. Whenever others asked her about the summary killings, the Tourism chief said she told them that "it's safe in the Philippines" and even urged them to visit the country and see for themselves. She noted the Philippines is becoming an alternate destination in Asia. Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs reminded Robredo freedom of speech comes with responsibility. In a statement, the DFA pointed out elements in Robredo’s video message shown at a side event of the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN-CND) in Vienna, Austria “need to be verified.” “The Philippines respects fundamental freedoms, including the right of everyone to speak freely on any topic,” the DFA said.  “However, freedom of expression is a right that comes with the responsibility to ensure that facts are verified, and unfounded allegations from questionable sources are avoided.” Robredo’s video statement was shown on March 16 at a side event by an anti-drug non-government organization alongside the official meetings in Vienna. This side event, the DFA said, “was not part of the official proceedings of the 60th Session of the UN-CND and did not reflect the stand of participating governments.” (Celerina Monte/DMS)