The Philippines is seeking to set up a new contact point linking the country's police with foreign embassies inside the country in a bid to better protect foreign tourists and expatriates, a senior official at the Phillippine foreign affairs department said.
"Right now, we have a plan to set up a contact point which would be the main contact point whenever there are any incidents involving foreign nations so that there would be better coordination between my ministry, foreign embassies and police agencies," Alex V. Lamadrid, senior special assistant at Office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.
The interview was conducted on the sidelines of the Global Consular Forum which South Korea is hosting in the city of Songdo, west of Seoul, to discuss multilateral cooperation on consular issues.
The comment by the senior Philippine official came amid growing safety anxieties in South Korea over trips to the Southeast Asian country.
Three South Koreans were recently found to have been shot to death in the Philippines while another married South Korean couple were also reported to be missing in the country since April.
Last year alone, a total of 11 Korean nationals were reported to have been killed in the country.
"We hope that with the creation of such a contact point, there will be more seamless communication between the foreign missions in the Philippines and the police" in resolving any crime cases involving foreigners, according to Lamadrid.
Commenting on the recent death case, the official said "we are very sorry about the incidents particularly involving Koreans."
He said an investigation into the case is being conducted by a joint operation between the two countries' police, highlighting that "This will be resolved very soon."
The senior special assistant also underlined that although crimes involving South Koreans are "rare and isolated" incidents, travelers need to take safety precautions when visiting non-tourist areas in the country.
"It's very important that Koreans coming to the Philippines should inform themselves about local conditions of areas where they are going," he said. "We'd like just tell people to take extra precautions when they visit certain areas which are not usual tourist destinations."
By and large, however, "the Philippines remains a safe destination for tourists ... the number of our tourist arrivals are rising every year and Korean tourists account for a large number of those tourists coming to the Philippines," he emphasized. (Yonhap)