Negative media reports re PH simply not true
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, speaking in Bangkok before Thai and Filipino officials, in the presence of the local and international press, urged the media to “tone down” their reporting of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, saying it was making it hard to sell the Philippines as a tourist destination.
She is right, of course; we should not air our dirty linen in public and just sweep under the rug everything wrong that this administration does.
The 8,000 or so EJK victims are a figment of the Philippine press’ imagination: Unlike our Asian neighbors, we do not have pirates targeting foreign visitors for kidnap-for-ransom, and beheading them if no ransom is paid; the recent beheading of the German tourist is not true; we do not have the longest running insurgency problem in the region, if not the world; our police force is efficient and incorruptible such that the populace welcomes them with open arms; our roads are relatively free of traffic and colorum vehicles; there is simply no bribery, and Sen. Tito Sotto is right when he says Filipino drivers are stupid—as a matter of fact, they are smart enough to know how to get their driver’s licenses without having to pass the driver’s exams.
Besides, it’s not true that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was being dictatorial and made a mockery of the basic democratic principle of checks and balances when he stripped those who voted against the restoration of the death penalty of their House chairmanships. And it was not Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, but merely a look-alike, who was seen at a pro-Duterte rally, inciting the crowd to clamor for the administration’s next target after Sen. Leila de Lima, hinting of Sen. Antonio Trillanes.
Yes, it was President Duterte’s maligning of Pope Francis, his vituperating of a US president as a son of a whore, his sticking of the dirty finger at the United Nations, his distancing himself from the country’s longtime ally while playing footsie with Beijing despite the latter’s encroachments on our territory that made Teo’s job of selling the Philippines difficult.
And, of course, it is the Inquirer, its opinion writers and other broadsheets criticizing the government, which are to blame for making the job of the secretary in selling the country difficult.
Yes, for this reason, the international community—this would include potential tourists—doesn’t see the beautiful tourist destination that is the Philippines (nothing is wrong with this wonderful paradise), and that is why tourists would rather go to South Korea and Taiwan, Japan and Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam than come to the Philippines.
That said, Teo might yet be able to more easily sell the Philippines if she goes on a cruise off the Sulu Sea, say, for a week, to demonstrate to all and sundry how safe the Philippines is. I suggest that she bring along with her some lawmakers for the trip.
ROBERT ALVAREZ HYNDMAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
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