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Show other side of drug war, Tourism exec tells NY Times

/ 03:45 PM March 28, 2017

A Tourism official on Tuesday called on the New York Times to report what he called the more positive side of the Philippine government’s war on drugs, after the publication released a series of pieces critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies.

Tourism Undersecretary Frederick “Ricky” Alegre said he was able to relay this concern to representatives of the New York Times’ digital advertising in a previous meeting.

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READ: Drug war on NY Times: ‘We no longer have fear in killing people’

“Matagal nang sumulat ‘yun bago pa ‘yung controversy sa sinulat nila… Nag-sosolicit ng advertising. Sabi ko bago ang lahat teka lang ano ba tong sinusulat ninyo. Ang sumulat naman sa amin sa DOT (Department of Tourism), kay Usec. Kat de Castro, ay ‘yung pinaka-country head ng New York Times dito. Editorial ‘yun. Itong grupong lumapit ay digital. I asked how it is connected to the hard copy, they said hiwalay,” Alegre said over Radyo Inquirer 990AM.

(They wrote to us before the controversy… They were soliciting for advertising. I said before anything else, what is this you’re writing. The one who wrote to DOT to Usec. Kat de Castro was the country head of the New York Times. The group that approached was the digital group. I asked how it is connected to the hard copy, they said it was separate.)

“Despite the negative reports that come out, we cannot stop promoting… Naiintindihan ko ‘yung (I understand the) business side. There is a bigger concern. Sabi ko, please relay to your higher ups that, show the other side of the picture. ‘Yun ‘yung (that is the) balance,” he added.

Over the weekend, the New York Times released a 15-minute video documentary which centered on the extrajudicial killings in the country amid the Duterte government’s antinarcotics campaign. The video, titled “When a President Says ‘I’ll Kill You,” also featured a confessed vigilante who said he considered Duterte’s remarks encouraging the police to hunt drug suspects as a license to kill.

READ: We have no fear, says hitman in drug war

The release of the documentary follows the publication of a New York Times news feature last week titled “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” and an editorial titled “Accountability for Duterte.” Malacañang has denounced the series of NYT pieces critical of Duterte as a “very obvious demolition work.”

Asked about DOT Secretary Wanda Teo’s controversial remark asking the media to “tone down” its reports on summary executions in the country, Alegre said the Tourism chief’s reaction was a “candid” appeal for everyone to promote Philippine tourism.

“The secretary was very candid when she was asked. And being the head promotions chief of the country, obviously what is the reaction if it affects? Any kind of negative publicity or report affects. But it does not stop her from promoting,” Alegre said.

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“Ang importante is we work together with media. It’s just a simple reaction and a simple appeal na baka pwede naman tayong maglabas ng ibang (maybe we can release other) reports about the country, and this addressed to everybody, hindi lang kay VP Leni, hindi lang sa media. Lahat tayo may (we all have a) responsibility for tourism to grow and be tourism ambassadors,” he added.

Over 7,000 deaths have been linked to the war on drugs since President Duterte assumed office. JE

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TAGS: drug war, Duterte, New York Times, NYT, Tourism, tourist, Wanda Teo, war on drugs
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