Thursday, 06 October 2011
US ambassador’s statements on RP’s sex tourism have basis — DFA
The claims of US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. on sexual tourism in the country indeed appear to have some basis, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario as the Department of Justice has been receiving the same information about it.
The DFA chief yesterday told senators during hearing of the agency's proposed budget next year that Thomas himself gave him the impression that the govenrment has information regarding his statement that "40 percent of foreign tourists come to the Philippines for sex."
Embassy officials also made the same claims during a recent meeting with DFA officials, reaffirmed their stance on the matter, even adding that Thomas will be using this as his "signature issue" during his tour of duty in the country.
Senators, however, are unwavering in their resolved to make Thomas elucidate his statement.
Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said it's unacceptable and still insisted on making the US envoy issue an explanation on what he described as insulting remarks against the Philippines.
"He did say that the contentions he was making could be validated by the secretary of justice. But I will ask him again to follow your instruction to give a validation of his statement," Del Rosario said speaking before the Senate finance committee chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon.
The matter was also the subject of Del Rosario's letter dated on Oct. 4, addressed to the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee Sen. Loren Legarda, where he mentioned the explanation given by US Embassy's political counselor Jou Yamamoto to DFA Undersecretary for policy Erlinda Basilio and Office of American Affairs Assistant Secretary Patricia Ann Paez.
Yamamoto clarified that the remarks "reflect US government estimates based on their officials working with Philippine authorities to close clubs and cater to pedophiles."
Thomas has repeatedly articulated in various fora that human trafficking would be his "signature issue" during his tour of duty in the Philippines, Del Rosario said in his letter to Legarda.
"In my conversation with the ambassador, I'm pleased to share that he considers that this is a partnership that they are happy to enter into with the Philippines in terms of dealing with the problem and challenges of human trafficking. And on the basis of existing partnership which he feels is working in some areas and not working in other areas, he wanted to dramatize the situation.
"I think we have to appreciate that this comment on the, citing a statistic on male tourism, I think he was referring essentially to white tourism and he explained that to me and he says there are many are coming from the US as well. He says it's coming from the US, Europe predominantly white male. He also indicated that it is this, there are groups of people that are into cybersex. Promoting cybersex, developing cybersex in the Philippines and these are the people that should be focused on because these are the people that prey on minors. And I think when he said this, it was in a legal forum, as part of a paper that he was delivering," Del Rosario explained.
"I'm not too clear on it. I have not seen the paper (delivered by Thomas). He was trying to cite an estimate of the magnitude of the problem and I think he's pointing out some deficiencies in terms of our institutions which he hopes can be addressed in terms of dealing with the problem on a holistic process.
Source: Angie M. Rosales, The Daily Tribune, 05 October 2011