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‘US ambassador recants sex tourists remark’


Manila : The government said Sunday that a statement by US Ambassador Harry Thomas on sex tourists coming to the Philippines, which he later recanted, would not hurt the long-standing relations between the two countries.

“Definitely not,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said when asked whether Thomas’s statement would in any way hinder ties between the Philippines and the US.

Lacierda said the Philippines “in fact thanked the ambassador for his frank statement, his statement of regret and apology when he learned that he could not back up his statement”, Xinhua reported.

“He immediately apologised to (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Albert) del Rosario and (Justice) Secretary Leila de Lima. This will not be a hindrance to our the relations between the Philippines and the United States,” said Lacierda.

He said Thomas’s apology — sent via text message to del Rosario who is in Hanoi on an official trip — “is sufficient and a recognition of an error on their part”.

Thomas had said in a public forum in Manila that based on a Philippines’ Department of Justice report, 40 percent of male tourists come to the Philippines to patronise the sex trade, which de Lima had strongly denied.

De Lima had earlier written to Thomas to ask him to provide the basis for his statement, a move that the Malacanang presidential palace supported.

Malacanang had earlier said that such a statement, if left uncorrected or unproven, could hurt the Philippines’ image as a wholesome, family destination.