US Embassy official says travel alerts no bearing on US-PH bilateral relationship

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva April 23,2017 - 11:01 PM

Advisories issued by the government of the United States against travel to certain parts of the Philippines will never be indicative of the two countries’ bilateral relationship, an American diplomat said.

Russel Brown, consul general at the US Embassy in Manila, said these warnings are for the mere benefit of US citizens.

“The decision to issue anything from us involving travel alert warnings or emergency messages is based on the overall health, safety, and security of American citizens,” he said during the general membership meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) in Cebu on Friday.

Last April 9, the US Embassy in Manila issued a warning to American citizens in the Philippines not to travel to Central Visayas amid reports that terrorist groups were planning to conduct kidnapping activities in the region.

Two days after, a firefight broke out between government forces and members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Inabanga, Bohol province.
In all of its consular operations in the world, Brown said they practice no double standard.

He said that whenever they receive credible information on activities that may compromise the security of US citizens in other countries, they are required to share this information.

While Brown recognized that these advisories may have a negative impact on business and tourism in the Philippines, he said that the US government had enough basis to issue such statements.

Nonetheless, he said he saw many reasons to continue to be optimistic for commercial and economic partnership between the Philippines and the US.
He said US companies such as Timex, JP Morgan & Chase, and Lexmark, among others, are comfortable operating here.

The Philippines continues to enjoy robust growth, clocking a 6.9-percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expansion in 2016.

Brown said efforts to end corruption, promote transparency in government, as well as improve the country’s overall business climate were seen to attract more investors.

He said the US is currently the Philippines’ biggest investor with $4 billion in investment stock.

US companies are also thriving in Cebu, especially in economic zones, Brown added.

The official said what AmCham does is a huge part of these success stories, calling for engagement as he recognized that it is critical in strengthening the relationship between the Philippines and the US.

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