Friday, June 15, 2012

Philippines: US Department of State Travel Warning Should Have Gone Farther

Effective June 14, 2012, the US Department of State warns its citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago and the island of Mindanao.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated January 5, 2012, and reflects continuing threats in those areas due to terrorist and insurgent activities.
The warning urges travelers to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. 

US citizens should exercise extreme caution if traveling to the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. Throughout Mindanao, criminal groups have clashed sporadically with the Philippine security forces, particularly in rural areas, and terrorist groups have kidnapped international travelers and carried out bombings that have resulted in injuries and deaths. 

COMMENT: Given the the large number of foreigners and Filipinos alike who have been kidnapped by criminal gangs and insurgent groups such as Abu Sayyaf in the south, the Department's travel warning should have been much stronger and should have discouraged ALL travel by US citizens to Sula and Mindanao.

One merely has to do a search of my countless postings on the Philippines to comprehend the severity of the kidnap threat in the south. As most of our readers know, Australian citizen Warren Rodwell, 53, was kidnapped in December 2011, and continues to be held for a multimillion dollar ransom.

For information on our in-house workshop entitled, "Kidnapping & Hostage-Taking Abroad: Understanding, Avoidance and Response," please contact