Palace on Australia’s travel advisory: No heightened terror threat

Palace on Australia’s travel advisory: No heightened terror threat

Responding to the travel advisory, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque qualified that it is “generally” safe for foreigners to travel and do business in the Philippines. PCOO

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has not monitored any increased terror activity in the country, Malacañang said Saturday in a bid to allay fears after Australia warned its citizens about a “high threat” of terrorist attacks.

Australia said the alarming threat of terror attack was prevalent in the whole country, including Manila, as it advised its nationals to exercise “a high degree of caution” when going to areas with low protective security.

Responding to the travel advisory, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque qualified that it is “generally” safe for foreigners to travel and do business in the Philippines.

He said the government already verified with Australian officials that the advisory was not a response to any specific threat, adding that Australia’s assessment was the same as it was at the height of the Marawi rebellion.

“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,” Roque said.

“We understand the concern of the Australian government cautioning its citizens on the Philippines safety or security risks,” he added.

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“The Department of Foreign Affairs has coordinated with other embassies and there is no change in travel advisories on the Philippines issued by other countries.”

Australia’s advisory to its citizens came before 21 world leaders — along with the United Nations chief and other high-level officials — arrive in Manila for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, where fighting extremism is high on the agenda.

It also came on the heels of the government’s declaration of Marawi’s liberation from Islamic State-inspired terrorists — which some critics said was announced prematurely as troops continue their search for “stragglers” in the city.

READ: AFP: Marawi liberation announcement not premature

For its part, the Department of National Defense assured the public that Australia’s advisory should not be a cause for concern.

“This should not be a cause for undue alarm since issuing regular travel advisories to citizens is commonly practiced by many countries, including Australia, especially in light of the spate of violent incidents that have been happening all over the world in recent times,” the DND said in a separate statement.

“Nevertheless, we enjoin everyone to remain vigilant and report to the proper authorities any suspicious activities in your area,” it added.

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