U.S. envoy regrets saying men go to Philippines for sex

Ambassador Harry Thomas

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines has apologized for his recent statement that 40 percent of male tourists visit the country for sex, a government spokesman said Saturday, Oct. 8.

Ambassador Harry Thomas sent a cell phone text message to Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who was on a visit to Vietnam, expressing regret for his comments.

“I should not have used the 40 percent statistic without the ability to back it up. I regret any harm that I may have caused,” Thomas said in the text message, which Hernandez forwarded to journalists.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Tina Malone said that Thomas “offered his deep regret” for his comment. She said the United States would continue to be a “strong and dedicated partner of the Filipino people in combating the global scourges of human trafficking and sexual tourism.”

Thomas’ remark last month angered some officials who questioned its basis and said it tarnished the country’s image.

After addressing a discussion on human trafficking in the Philippines on Sept. 22, Thomas also told journalists that the sex tourists included Americans and that it was “something I’m not proud of.” He urged Philippine authorities to prosecute all foreign sex tourists, including Americans.

The Philippines is trying to revive its tourism industry and erase its ’80s reputation as a major destination for sex tourists.

As a former U.S. colony, the Philippines hosted American bases until the early 1990s, and communities around the military facilities became liberty towns and havens for prostitution that catered to American service members.

Earlier this past week, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wrote Thomas seeking data to back up his remarks after the ambassador said the Justice Department was the source of his information.

De Lima told reporters such comments from a diplomat were offensive and demeaning since they portrayed the Philippines as a “country of sex workers.” (end)

One Response to “U.S. envoy regrets saying men go to Philippines for sex”

  1. James says:

    I would like to know who this man thinks he is, saying crap like this! asia is well known for this kind of tourism, but has he looked at the US, where groups smuggle in cargo of women to sell to clubs or work on the streets, has he considered the economic status of the Philippines and how most people struggle just to survive when we don’t so much! This was an arrogant remark from a small man! I am american and I have married a filipino, this kind of bold criticism in public is the reason I have not been home to the US to visit my family in over 4 years! I am ashamed to be American today after reading this! The racial context alone is disturbing, should we state the percentage of young black men in the correction system in the US, maybe Mr. Thomas would like that statistic. I hope the Obama Administration would do the right thing and remove this man from his post.

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