Safety first


“Generally, it is safe to work, study, do business, and travel in the Philippines.”

This was what newly appointed Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque assured foreign embassies following the fresh travel advisory issued by the Australian government against the Philippines.

In its advisory, the Australian government cautioned its citizens on the Philippines’ safety or security risks.

“We verified with Australian officials and that the advisory is not a response to any specific threat. Their general threat assessment has remained the same as it was the height of the Marawi rebellion, which we all know has already been resolved by our government forces,” Roque said in his official statement.

The United Kingdom (UK) likewise said its existing travel advisory regarding terror threats in the Philippines remains in effect. The alert on its official website, updated Nov. 3, was identified as “still current” on November 4.

“Militant groups in rural areas throughout the Philippines. Armed clashes between security forces and militant groups can occur at any time without warning. Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila,” the advisory stated.

For its part, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has coordinated with other embassies and confirmed that there are no changes on the travel advisories to the Philippines issued by other countries.

“The Philippine government has no information about any increased terror threat in the county and we assure our foreign friends that local authorities have been enforcing tight security measures, especially in populated areas while we urge everyone to continue being aware of one’s surroundings,” Roque added.

Fighting in Marawi City was declared over after military forces killed Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, one of the founders of the Maute Group, last October 23.

Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 8, the entire force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be on full alert to address any security concerns for the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit 2017 which is scheduled next week. Under this status, PNP units are available 100 percent for immediate deployment should they be required immediately.

Military personnel are also tasked to remain vigilant and secure the safety of leaders and delegations attending next week’s summit. National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said no security threat has been detected so far.

An estimated 60,000 personnel from 21 agencies and their equipment will be deployed to various ASEAN meeting venues in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Pampanga to secure the week-long event.

“We cannot be very complacent. We should be aware, we should be on guard. We need to be strict in implementing tight security measures to prevent any untoward incident,” Lorenzana said.

National security is of paramount importance to any country and to everyone. Confronting any looming threat goes beyond the power of governments. Travel advisory or not, every citizen is advised to remain vigilant and to take extra precautions wherever they go.

The war against terrorism requires a resolute individual to take a stand and confront it. This also means understanding terrorism: why it exists and why it has had adverse consequences on humanity. (AJPress)

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