Canada advises citizens to avoid travel to parts of MindanaoBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – Canada has warned its citizens against travel to Mindanao citing a “serious threat” of terrorism and abduction in the region.
This followed Australia’s advisory on Monday of “a very high threat” of terror and violent crime in Central and Western Mindanao, which prompted its embassy in Manila to cancel travel of its staff to Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City indefinitely.
In an updated travel advisory on July 2, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada warned its citizens in the Philippines to avoid the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and the Zamboanga Peninsula due to security concerns.
“There is a serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in this region. On July 1, 2013, the Embassy of Australia in Manila halted all embassy staff travel to Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City until further notice,” the Canadian government said in its revised travel warning.
Expanding on Australia’s warning that covered the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago, the Canadian advisory told its citizens to avoid ARMM’s provinces including Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula including Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, North and South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
The advisory, however, excluded metropolitan Davao City.
Tuesday’s updated advisory is similar to the warning the Canadian government issued on May 30, along with the governments of Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, that barred nationals from traveling to Mindanao due to a terror and kidnap threat in the conflict-stricken region.
Canada again cited this information in its updated travel advisory.
“On May 29, 2013, the Embassy of the United States in Manila warned US citizens in the Zamboanga region of Mindanao to be extremely vigilant following a credible threat of a terrorist plot to kidnap foreigners for ransom in that area,” said the advisory.
The Canadian government further cited previous incidents of violence in Mindanao, including deadly bombings in the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Zamboanga, General Santos, Iligan, Jolo, Isabela and Davao. It also warned of clashes between government and rebel forces in the region.
“The threat of terrorist attacks remains high in major centers in the region,” read the advisory, posted on the Canadian government’s website.