Palace assures safety of tourists following Palawan blastsBy Christine O. Avendaño, Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Malacañang assured the public on Sunday that the government is capable of providing security to its people and visiting foreigners following a travel advisory issued by the United Kingdom as a result of the April 5 explosions in Palawan.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine National Police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are investigating the simultaneous blasts that hit the capital city of Puerto Princesa and the popular resort town of El Nido.
Valte told the state-run dzRB radio that the explosions had “to do with some local issues” but it was best for the Palawan police to make the explanation.
“We understand the nature of travel advisories and as such, as we have said in the past, we will continue to extend security not just to our people but to those who visit our country as tourists,” she said in reaction to the UK travel advisory.
Three persons were injured in the El Nido and Puerto Princesa bombings, which authorities described as meant more to “alarm than harm.”
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on April 6 advised British nationals in Palawan, particularly El Nido and Puerto Princesa City, “to call home to let family know they are safe.”
The FCO reiterated its earlier warning against traveling to southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. It also advised against travel to the rest of Mindanao, unless necessary, for the same reason.
“There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Such places could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, places of worship etc.,” the FCO said.
“Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and dive boats and sites in the Sulu Sea, it added.
Over 130,000 British tourists visited the Philippines in 2011, according to the FCO.
Palawan recently experienced a surge of foreign and domestic tourists after the Puerto Princesa Underground River was named one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” in a global poll. Tourists have also been flocking to Palawan’s beaches at the onset of the summer season.