BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA
ILOILO City – Locally residing South Korean nationals described this southern city as very safe for foreigners like them.
The Iloilo Korean United Community Association Inc. shared this positive view, contrary to reports by international publications depicting the Philippines as the most dangerous place for South Koreans.
“Some Koreans have raised ‘red alert’ on some cities in Mindanao, but we really feel safe in Iloilo City,” said Titus Jeon, vice president of the organization.
Jeon acknowledged that there were petty crimes in Iloilo City and South Koreans were at times victimized, but he said these were not comparable to those in other cities where robberies and murders were rampant.
Currently, there are between 2,000 to 3,000 South Koreans in the city, he said.
“Perhaps we need tighter security in places where most Koreans go, such as malls, restaurants and other convergence areas,” said Jeon.
He suggested more police deployment.
Jeon has lived in Iloilo for five years already, after 12 years in Cebu. His children study in schools here.
“Ilonggos are very friendly,” said Jeon.
Their good relationship with the Ilonggos has inspired the group to organize the annual Korean-Ilonggo Friendship Festival at the SM City Iloilo Activity Center.
The festival kicked off Sept. 22 and will go on until the 26th.
The activities include Korean food festival, K-Pop concert, fashion show and cooking demonstration, among others.
The regional director of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bienvenido R. Regala, revealed to Panay News recently that from as high as 1,400, South Koreans studying here and neighboring towns have dwindled to around 800.
He said that while there were no official findings on why the Korean students had diminished, “It could be because of the crime incidents involving foreigners in the Philippines.”
He would rather not specify, hinting that these criminal acts that threaten Korean students and tourists are well-covered by the media.
“I want foreign students and tourists to come back and feel at home here,” Regala said. “They need to feel safe. That is the only reason why I am occasionally seen in their company.”/PN