MANILA (UPDATED) – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised the alert level for Thailand following the declaration of martial law in that country.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the Alert Level for Thailand from Level 1--which is the precautionary phase--to Level 2 --which is the restriction phase-- in view of the recent political developments in that country," said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose.
Jose explained that under Alert Level 2, Filipinos in Thailand are instructed to restrict non-essential movements and avoid public places and prepare for possible evacuation if necessary.
"Under Alert Level 2, the Department of Labor and Employment allows only overseas Filipino workers with existing contracts, the Balik Manggagawa, to return to their host country," Jose added.
Likewise, Jose said the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok advised Filipinos living or traveling to Thailand to avoid the rally sites or large gatherings and to refrain from taking part in the protests or other political activities.
"Everyone is advised to continue to exercise extreme caution and vigilance and to closely monitor developments. Our embassy has a contingency plan in place and we have a team from DFA, led by a senior officer, ready to go to Thailand at the soonest possible time to validate this contingency plan," he said.
Jose said there are between 10,000 to 15,000 Filipinos, including undocumented ones, all over Thailand.
"Our bilateral relations with Thailand remain very strong and vibrant. But in view of the recent political development in Thailand, our primary concern is the protection of the welfare of our people living in Thailand," Jose said.
Philippine Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia told ANC that they have not heard of any problems encountered by Filipinos in Thailand since the demonstrations started.
"People are living their normal lives," she said.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the Royal Thai Army declared a nationwide martial law to restore order after six months of street protests.