Australia warns citizens vs terror threats, crime in PH
Taking its cue from the United States, the Australian government has advised its citizens travelling to the Philippines to exercise a “high degree of caution,” citing “high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of crime.”
In a travel advisory issued Monday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade urged its citizens planning to visit Bohol or Cebu to “exercise heightened vigilance” and to review their personal security plans. This was after the US Embassy in Manila, citing “unsubstantiated yet credible information,” warned Americans against kidnapping threats in Central Visayas.
“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks. Seek specific advice for the locations you intend to visit,” the advisory read.
As of writing, at least six people including a police officer were reported killed in an ongoing firefight between government security forces and 10 heavily armed suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the tourist island Bohol. Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Monday confirmed the existence of a terror threat to kidnap tourists in Central Visayas but did not provide details.
The Australian department also cited an “ongoing terrorist threat” in the Philippines including Manila after the planting of an improvised explosive device near the US Embassy and the bombing of a night market in Davao City last year.
“There is an ongoing threat of terrorist attacks and violent crime in the Philippines, including in Manila, other major cities and many rural areas. Exercise particular caution around locations that have a low level of protective security and places known to be possible terrorist targets,” it said.
It also strongly advised its citizens not to travel to Central and Western Mindanao due to the “very high threat of kidnapping, terrorist attack, violent crime, and violent clashes between armed groups.”
“There is a very high threat of kidnapping in the southern Philippines, especially at coastal resorts and isolated coastal locations. The threat is highest along the Zamboanga peninsula and in the Sulu Archipelago. Groups based in the Sulu Archipelago have demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks at locations around Mindanao and in eastern Malaysia. See Safety and security,” the advisory read.
“Recent attacks have also created concerns that these groups have the capability to target locations frequented by tourists in southern Palawan, southern Negros or Siquijor,” it added.
Aside from terror threats, the Australian government also mentioned “strong statements regarding the trafficking and use of drugs in the Philippines,” an “ongoing transmission of Zika virus,” and possible flooding and landslides due to the typhoon season from late May to December. JE/rga
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