U.S. diplomat says 'sorry' to Philippines

Oct. 8, 2011 at 11:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines has formally acknowledged using unfounded statistics in a statement about sexual tourism, embassy officials said.

The U.S. Embassy in Manila confirmed Ambassador Harry Thomas apologized for his statement in late September that 40 percent of male tourists to the Philippines were drawn by the child-sex industry, the BBC reported.

Thomas reportedly said in his diplomatic apology to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario he had used a figure that wasn't corroborated by official agencies.

The controversy that sparked anger among Filipino officials came as the WikiLeaks Web site published U.S. diplomatic cables from Manila to Washington from February 2010 on the topic of child prostitution, ABS-CBN News reported.

"Sex tourists reportedly came from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia to engage in sexual activity with minors," one message said.

The BBC said Filipino officials are particularly frustrated at the attention the child-sex trade is drawing as they work to shore up legitimate tourism, which has been flagging.

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