Hard sell
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 29, 2017 - 12:00am

A clear case of shooting the messenger. We all know Tourism Sec. Wanda Teo's appeal to media to "tone down reports on extrajudicial killings, as it becomes harder to sell the Philippines to tourists." But why appeal to media when it is the duty of the press to report and inform? Isn't the press/media just doing its job? Have there been any instances where the media made up an extrajudicial killing?

It's like a restaurant owner appealing for less bad reviews about his place because he is losing customers, when what he should be addressing is the bad food and service. The killings do exist. Thousands, in fact. There is no denying it. Even the foreign media have picked up on the current bloody war on illegal drugs. And they have not painted a pretty picture, much to the chagrin of the Duterte administration. I even scoff at the official who asked if "they saw corpses on the streets". Well, I really don't come across drug addicts or pushers either. Does that mean they don't exist, and is just government hype? I know several barangay captains who are not into drugs, and yet the reason for the administration's plan to just appoint barangay officials is because the current roster is allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

Just recently, the New York Times ran an article on Duterte's rise to power, from his beginnings as a city mayor in Davao, to his ascendancy to the presidency, and yes, all the blood in between. Most recently, an opinion piece blasted his deadly war on drugs, and called on the country's trading partners to "hit the Philippines where it hurts most." Scathing, indeed. The foreign press have picked upon what is happening in the country, which was, before Duterte's administration, known to champion human rights and due process. The world has not seen a Philippines such as the one it sees now. Whether that has a good or bad impact on both tourism and the economy waits to be seen, although the mere fact that Sec. Teo is appealing already speaks volumes.  

The Philippines is a member of the community of nations, in spite of Duterte's wish for the Philippines to align solely with China and Russia. To my knowledge, and my hope, we have not turned into a North Korea or even China whose belligerence towards world opinion is well known. We cannot just say "leave us alone." The country still needs friends, allies even, and we have those. I would like to think we still have them as allies, in spite of all of Duterte's tirades against them.

If the country is "hard to sell", then perhaps the cause should be addressed, not the reporting. The spate of killings is not the only reason why the country lags behind popular tourist destinations like Thailand and Indonesia. The infrastructure to cater to tourists is sorely lacking. Not everyone digs the robust, Spartan conditions of some of the country's beautiful attractions. Imagine if many of the country's potential tourist spots were as developed as Boracay and Palawan? I defer the good secretary to a well-known line from a movie. "If you build it, they will come". That's actually good advice.


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