USA, CANADA, UK, AUSTRALIA UPDATE ADVISORIES VS TRAVEL TO MINDANAO
MANILA, JUNE 3, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Pia Lee-Brago - A day after the US embassy advised Americans against traveling to Mindanao due to threats of kidnapping of foreigners in the area, the governments of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom issued a similar advisory.
Australia and Canada yesterday advised their citizens against traveling to some parts of Mindanao due to threats of terrorist attacks and kidnappings.
The UK released their advisory on Wednesday night, hours after the US embassy issued the terrorist kidnap alert.
Although it would not protest the advisory of the US embassy, Malacañang denied there is specific threat in Zamboanga.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government would continue to provide for the safety not only of Filipinos, but also of foreigners.
In issuing the advisory, Australia cited the US embassy warning to Americans of a credible kidnap threat against foreigners in Zamboanga.
Australia advised its citizens not travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga Peninsula due to threats of terrorist attack, kidnappings, crimes and clashes between armed groups.
“We continue to see reports indicating that militants based in the southern Philippines are planning to kidnap Westerners. If you are in central or western Mindanao, you are strongly advised to leave immediately,” it said.
Australia said there is a danger of kidnapping throughout the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, including in the coastal and island tourist resorts and dive sites.
For its part, Canada urged its citizens to exercise caution as it cited an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests.
The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) advised Canadians against traveling to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which included the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sharif Kabunsuan, Sulu and Tawi Tawi.
It also discouraged them from going to Davao del Sur (excluding urban areas of Davao City), Lanao del Norte, North and South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Sur, and in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Canada also mentioned the alert issued by the US embassy on Wednesday, which advised Americans to re-evaluate their personal safety and postpone travel to Zamboanga area.
In a travel advisory updated Wednesday night, the UK informed its citizens that terrorist groups continue to plan attacks, particularly in places frequented by foreigners.
It also mentioned the US embassy warning and a number of attacks against civilians in Mindanao last year, particularly the bombing incidents in Cotabato City, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Zamboanga.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) denied the threats in Zamboanga, as it noted that it is normal for governments to issue travel advisory to ensure the safety of their citizens.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Armed Forces, the Philippine National Police, and other law enforcement offices declared that “there are no specific threats monitored in the area.” – With Aurea Calica
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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