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UN rapporteur: Don’t blame media
MANILA, Philippines - Don’t blame the messenger.
UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard yesterday said Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo should appeal to the government and the police to stop extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in its war against illegal drugs instead of blaming the media.
“#Philippines Tourism Chief asks Media to tone down #EJK report! She should ask Gov & Police to #StopEJK,” Callamard wrote on her Twitter account.
Callamard made the statement after Teo blamed the media for focusing on the high number of people being killed in the brutal campaign against illegal drugs.
Teo said the media should promote the Philippines as a tourist destination and highlight the achievements of President Duterte.
Teo made the appeal a few days after she asked Vice President Leni Robredo to “tone down” reports on summary killings, saying the issue is affecting the tourism industry in the country.
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Teo said the Philippines is becoming an alternate destination in Asia and Europe but negative reports such as summary killings and executions of suspected drug offenders make it harder for the Department of Tourism to sell the country to foreign visitors.
Such statements are detrimental to tourism targets, Teo stressed.
Responding to Callamard’s remarks, Teo said it is not government policy to tolerate summary executions.
She said the media should not give much attention to the issue since there is no clear evidence that such things were happening.
“There is no proof of summary killings of drug suspects on the part of the government. The Senate is still investigating it,” she said.
In December, Callamard urged the Philippine government to allow her to investigate reports of summary executions of suspected criminals by the police.
However, Duterte issued some preconditions before allowing her to proceed with the investigation.
Callamard refused and said the Philippine government should respect the role of special rapporteurs under the UN Human Rights Council.
Despite media reports, the government claims it did not cancel the visit but called on Callamard to comply with the conditions imposed by the President to allow her to visit the country. – With Robertzon Ramirez