Foreign gov’ts warn citizens on travel to south, even metro
THE GOVERNMENTS of Australia, Canada and Singapore warned their citizens in the Philippines on Saturday of a high threat of terrorist attacks across the country, the day after a powerful blast left at least 14 dead and scores wounded in Davao City.
The travel advisories were issued as authorities pointed to the Abu Sayyaf as the likely suspects behind what they described as an attack to divert government attention from a massive manhunt on nearby Jolo island.
The Abu Sayyaf at first claimed responsibility for the bombing but later retracted it.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised its citizens “to reconsider traveling to eastern Mindanao, including Davao City, and to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines.”
It said that “higher levels (of caution) apply in some parts of the country.”
“Australians in Davao should exercise heightened vigilance, avoid the affected area and follow the advice of local authorities,” read Australia’s travel warning.
“There is an ongoing threat of terrorist attacks and violent crime in the Philippines, including in Manila, other major cities and many rural areas. You should exercise particular caution around locations that have a low level of protective security and places known to be possible terrorist target,” it said.
The Singapore Embassy condemned the blast and offered its condolences to the victims and their families. It warned its citizens against traveling to the south and said those who were in Davao should contact the embassy.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish the injured a speedy recovery,” the embassy said, adding that there were no reports of Singaporeans among the victims.
“Singaporeans in the Philippines are advised to exercise vigilance and monitor the local news and instructions of local authorities,” it said.
The Canadian government updated its “security tab” and posted red warnings on travel to the south. It warned its citizens “to exercise a high degree of caution.”
“There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Philippines. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests,” the advisory said.
It told its citizens to avoid traveling to Mindanao where its “ability to provide consular assistance in this region is limited.”
But Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said the blast appeared to be an isolated attack, and called on the public to trust the security forces, who she said reacted swiftly.
“The quick and professional response and action of our police, armed forces and security group shows that Davao is well-prepared for contingencies, including isolated attacks like this bombing incident,” Teo said. “We need to show such acts have no place in our society and should not deter us from doing normal activities.” With a report from Dexter Cabalza
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