Australia, US warn citizens of kidnapping threat in Palawan

San Vicente, Palawan

Manila, Philippines – Australia and the United States warned their citizens against the threat of kidnapping in Palawan and told them to be vigilant of their surroundings.

In an updated advisory on Friday, Australia’s travel alert cited a report from authorities of a “credible kidnapping threat” in Palawan.

The advisory also mentioned the Basilan explosion last month that killed 11 people, as well as recent attacks of insurgents in Luzon and Visayas.

Australia advised its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in traveling to the Philippines.

It also warned its citizens to “reconsider” its travel plans to eastern Mindanao and do not travel to central and Western Mindanao due to high levels of violent crime, high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping.

On Tuesday, the US Embassy in its security alert even cited a Facebook post of the Palawan-based Western Command saying: “Western Command remains on heightened alert and continues to tighten its security posture in Palawan against all forms of threats, amidst circulating information on probable kidnapping in the Province.”

The US advised their citizens to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, review personal security plans and monitor local media for updates.

Inquirer reported on Monday that Palawan has gone public with an intelligence report that a unit of the Abu Sayyaf Group headed to Palawan from Sulu, and was bound to sow terror through kidnapping.

In its advisory, it encouraged citizens to report any suspicious personality or activities to government authorities.

The British Embassy in Manila also issued a travel advisory last Monday about the kidnapping threat in Palawan. As of the updated travel alert on Friday, it was no longer available.

But the UK has a standing travel warning to its citizens against trips to western and central and Sulu archipelago due to terrorist activities and clashes between military and insurgent groups.

“The [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao [excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands] and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.”

The Western Command on Sunday said that it continues to be on heightened alert amid security threats in Palawan.

“Wescom’s air and naval forces are conducting patrols, while its Marines and Army special forces are scouring the grounds and coastlines. We are supported by the PNP Maritime and Land Forces while the Coast Guard assists us in ensuring safety of life at sea. We also intensified our information network activities and maintain strategic checkpoints in the province,” it said.

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