Travel warning due to terrorism risk in Philippines

Posted by Zotta Rendevouz

The US State Department has issued a travel warning for US travelers, and citizens working and living in the Philippines because of an increased terror risk particularly in Mindanao and other southern provinces. However, they do point out that the capital of Manila could also be a target of terrorism.
Not only has the United States issued travel warnings for their citizens, but so has the United Kingdom and Australia.
Here is the complete State Department warning:

November 2, 2010

The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of terrorist activity in the Philippines, particularly in the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.  Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate and could occur not only in the southern islands but also in other areas, to include Manila.  Targeted sites may be public gathering places that are frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers, including American citizens.  Such sites could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, conference centers and other public venues.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated April 2, 2010, to reflect continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

Travelers should exercise extreme caution if traveling in the central and western portions of the island of Mindanao, as well as in the islands of the Sulu Archipelago.  Regional terrorist groups have carried out bombings resulting in injuries and death.  An October 10 bus bombing in Mindanao claimed 10 lives; an investigation is underway to determine whether this was a terrorist act. Since August 2008, sporadic clashes have occurred between lawless groups and the Philippine Armed Forces in the Mindanao provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and Maguindanao, as well as the Sulu Archipelago. 

Kidnap-for-ransom gangs are active throughout the Philippines and have targeted foreigners.  U.S. Government employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.  Travelers to these areas should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas.  Some foreigners who reside in or visit Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago hire their own security.

The Philippine government declared a state of emergency on November 24, 2009, for the two provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, as well as Cotobato City, as a result of election-related violence.  While the elections have passed, this state of emergency is still in effect.  Travelers should be aware of heightened police activity and significant military presence in these areas.  They should carefully research restrictions imposed upon travel and follow the instructions of government officials with regards to limitations on movement.

.S.citizens traveling, living, and working throughout the Philippines are urged to exercise heightened caution in public gathering places.  U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling in the vicinity of demonstrations since they can turn confrontational and possibly escalate to violence.

The Department of State remains concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  The Worldwide Caution reminds U.S. citizens that terrorism can occur anywhere.

The Department strongly encourages U.S. citizens in the Philippines to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department's travel registration website.  The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000.  The American Citizens Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-301-2017 and the ACS web page can be accessed online.