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Adverse travel advisories

The Philippines again is the subject of travel warnings from at least two countries following the lawlessness in Mindanao.

Adverse travel advisories

Australia and the United Kingdom cautioned their citizens against traveling to the strife-torn island, in the wake of recent terrorist attacks and clashes between government troops and insurgent groups.

The Philippines is used to negative travel advisories, especially if known terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the local ISIS abduct civilians and foreign tourists, or bomb public places to harm or kill people. But such warnings will have a long-term impact on the tourism industry, the investment climate and the overall economic development of a region or the entire nation itself.

The travel warnings from the foreign governments can be unfairly extensive as the one issued by the British government. UK’s travel advisory warned about more terrorist attacks in the Philippines, including Manila. Terrorist groups, says the UK advisory, continue to plan attacks and “have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.”

The UK also cited the report of American authorities that highlighted “poor aviation security” at the capital’s main airport. The warning may be excessive but the British government has the responsibility to protect its citizens planning to travel in Mindanao, amid the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law scheduled on Jan. 21. Close to 2.8-million voters are expected to cast their votes in the areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Isabela City in Basilan and Cotabato City—known hot spots in the island.

Authorities, meanwhile, must increase police presence in tourist destinations, seaports, airports and other public places to deter violence. They should monitor and patrol these places 24 hours a day to keep peace and order.

The travel advisories may have already scuttled the plans of potential foreign tourists to visit the Philippines, but there is no substitute for vigilance in containing all forms of lawlessness.

Topics: Mindanao , travel warnings , United Kingdom , Australia , Bangsamoro Organic Law , Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
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