BANGKOK - Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Wednesday urged Vice President Leni Robredo and the media to "tone down" reports on extrajudicial killings as it raises security and safety concerns among potential tourists.
Robredo, in a video played during a United Nations meeting, criticized the spike of extra judicial killings and human rights violations under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
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Police inspect the bodies of two men lying on a sidewalk, who police said were killed after a drug buy-bust operation in Quezon City Sunday. Ezra Acayan, Reuters
More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took power on June 30 last year and delivered on his election promise to launch a merciless campaign against crime and drugs.
Police take responsibility for over 2,500 of those deaths during their anti-drugs operations, but reject allegations by local and international human rights groups that police are involved in thousands of mysterious murders of drug users.
Teo said reports on human rights violations in the country have made it more difficult for the government to sell the Philippines as a prime tourist destination.
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"Sana i-tone down yung mga statement na ganun because I'm always asked wherever I go kung totoo ba ito... Nahihirapan talaga ako mag-sell," the tourism chief told reporters.
"The Philippines is becoming an alternative destination for Asia and Europe... Help us sell the Philippines," she added.
Despite the negative impression on the country, Teo said she is confident that tourist arrivals will not wane after China committed to encourage about 1 million Chinese travelers to visit Philippine destinations within the year
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