US, UK warn citizens on traveling to Palawan

MANILA, Philippines – “Shoot on sight” is the means by which President Duterte needs the military to manage Abu Sayyaf bandits, as the United States and Britain have cautioned their residents to threats of abducting of foreigners by the terror group in a some resorts in Palawan.


“My order to the security forces is stalk, shoot them on site. Patayin ninyo (Kill them), do not waste your bullet, then we take care of them in hospital. Expend your bullet to finish the problem because it is really a problem. It is a problem of security, law and order,” Duterte said in remarks before journalists shortly before his departure for Cambodia yesterday to attend the World Economic Forum on ASEAN.

He said soldiers ought not to falter to kill terrorists.

“If you encounter them, kill them. Filipinos are in great number. Next year there will be more – there will be about 125 million of us. We can always replenish the supply, do not worry,” he said in English and Filipino.

The most recent advisories came weeks after the two nations and a few others alarmed their citizens to dangers of kidnapping in Bohol.

Security forces would later pounce on Abu Sayyaf bandits in three boats in a remote riverside community in Bohol.

Six militants and four government troops died in the Bohol clashes, including terror leader Muammar Askali, otherwise called Abu Rami.

The British embassy likewise advised British nationals to carefully consider travel plans in the areas mentioned by the US embassy.

In its travel advice, the British embassy said “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country.”

The travel advice said assaults could happen anyplace, including into spots visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping centers, public transport and places of worship.

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“You should remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities,” it said.

The US embassy reminded its nationals of the most recent Worldwide Caution, dated March 6, 2017, indicating risk of terrorist actions and violence against US citizens and interests abroad, including into the Philippines.

In its past travel alert, the US embassy said it has received “unsubstantiated yet credible” information with respect to conceivable kidnapping of foreigners in the Visayas, particularly Cebu and Bohol.

For Western Command (Wescom) officer Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario, it would be difficult for the Abu Sayyaf to grab vacationers in Palawan as the island area is amply secured.

He likewise said that while the military has not affirmed a particular danger of kidnapping or any terror activity in Palawan, it is considering the US travel advisory seriously.

“With their vast network, the US will not just release without any basis,” he said, referring to the US embassy advisory.

“However, based on our own intelligence, we view this threat as very minimal. While there were previous threat reports, these were not confirmed following weeks of validation. We don’t see anything,” Del Rosario said.

He said Wescom has been on heightened alarm since the conflicts in Bohol between security forces and a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“All the (security) efforts are in place and the terrorist could not just penetrate (the province),” Del Rosario said.