Thursday, October 27, 2011

British Tourist, 62, Shot, Killed for Mobile Phone, Wallet in the Philippines

Paul Atkins, 62, a British tourist from Stoke-on-Trent, was discovered by Filipino police at roughly 0130 on October 16, lying dead on the pavement in the city of Angeles outside of a bar, some 50 miles north of Manila. He had been shot twice in the head and killed at point-blank range by two gunmen on a motorbike, after they demanded his mobile phone and his wallet.

COMMENT: Atkins, who was living temporarily in Hong Kong, but was on holiday in the Philippines at the time, was not identifiable after he was shot, nor did they have contact any numbers of next-of-kin or close friends. He also did not carry his passport information.

Not being able to identify Atkins' body because of damage caused by the shooting, police were able to develop a photo, asking for anyone who knew him to contact the Philippines National Police. Subsequently, a friend of Atkins', who lives in Hong Kong, saw the circulated picture, contacted police and flew to the Philippines to identify the body. Police are now searching for witnesses who might be able to identify the gunmen on the motorbike. Yet, in all honesty, the trail has gotten very cold.

Unfortunately for Atkins, he violated several critical precepts on how to stay safe at night in a high-risk country such as the Philippines: (1) He was out very late at night when "bad people" tend to search for victims; (2) He was alone, which always increases one's vulnerability; (3) He was a foreigner, and generally perceived to have money, otherwise why would be out late at night ?; and (4) Having been found laying outside of a bar, one can presume that he may have been drinking and "bar-hopping," a dangerous combination that can inhibit one's ability to be vigilant.

The rules of engagement if one is partying in the Philippines is due the following: (a) Go out with a friend, so there is protection in numbers; (b) Carry no more cash than is absolutely necessary; (c) Don't look like a tourist; (d) Be off the streets before 2200; and (e) Be observant of possible criminals who may want to get near you and take appropriate action. If you can't follow these guidelines, read or watch a movie in your hotel room and live to party another day.

There are several items that are recommend that ALL foreign travelers carry in their pocket or purse: (1) A copy of their international medical treatment and evacuation coverage--don't leave home without it; (2) A laminated card showing blood type, allergies to medications and a list of medications you take daily; (3) A laminated card that lists the names of five family members or close contacts and their phone numbers (including country and city code); and (4) a photocopy of the photographic page from one's passport and the date he/she entered the country--this should include the passport # and citizenship.

Considering that valuable time was lost between the time that Atkins was shot and killed and when he was identified, it is entirely possible that his assailants will unfortunately live to kill another day.

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