China issues travel ban vs PH after teener’s kidnap
MANILA, Philippines—China on Friday warned its citizens not to travel to the Philippines after a Chinese teenager who worked in a family-run store was kidnapped.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said it was worried because of plots confirmed by the country’s police that criminal groups planned to attack the Chinese Embassy, Chinese companies and public venues such as malls.
“Given that the safety situation in the Philippines is deteriorating, the consular service of the foreign ministry is asking Chinese nationals not to travel to the Philippines for the time being,” the warning read.
The warning came as relations between the two countries soured in recent years over competing claims to the same territory in the South China Sea.
On late Thursday, 18-year-old Li Peizhi was seized by unidentified gunmen in Zamboanga Sibugay province’s Kabasalan town, Senior Insp. Leo Castillo said.
The teener was at his house in Kabasalan when four armed men aboard a closed-type multicab with license plate No. JBH 581 seized him.
The gunmen also took P20,000 ($455) from the store’s cash register, Castillo said.
1st Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Franco Suelto said the kidnapping happened around 6 p.m. and that the suspects retreated toward Sitio Mangahas in Barangay Timuay Danda, Kabasalan, and transferred to a waiting motorized pump boat.
Officers in pursuit later found the kidnappers’ vehicle burning in a village about two kilometers away, Castillo said.
Mayor George Cainglet said Abu Sayyaf militants who had kidnapped Australian Warren Richard Rodwell in 2011 may have been involved. He said no ransom demand had been made.
Suelto said troops had set up checkpoints in Zamboanga Sibugay in pursuit of the suspects and were scouring the areas of Lower Baluran, Imelda, Guintolan, Payao, Siay and Kabasalan.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) meanwhile issued a statement following China’s travel advisory, and “reassured the Chinese Embassy of appropriate and necessary protection to guard against threats and prevent any violent incidents.”
The DFA added that local authorities were carefully investigating the foiled bombing attempt at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sept. 1 that the group behind the plot said was meant to drive away China from the contested Spratly Islands.
The Foreign Affairs office also clarified China’s statement over the “deteriorating” security situation in the country.
“Our embassy in China will clarify this matter (with the Chinese officials). There is no threat here,” Charles Jose, DFA’s spokesperson and assistant secretary, said over the phone on Friday.
Jose said China had not reached out to the DFA in Manila to verify reports on the supposed security threats in the Philippines before it issued the travel alert, and that he was not aware of any talks between Beijing and Manila about such threats.
He said Philippine officials in China had yet to receive instructions on whether they would file an appeal with China to lift or modify its travel advisory.
The foiled airport bombing was linked to lawyer Ely Pamatong who admitted in media interviews that he had ordered it because his group, the United States Allied Freedom Fighters of the East, believed that the government had done nothing to defend the Spratlys from China. With a report from AP
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