MANILA — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) questioned Saturday the inclusion of Philippines in the US State Department's list of countries with increased risk of kidnapping, saying the country's abduction cases have been "in a downward trend in recent years."
"A list is just a list. What we have are factual data pointing to the decreasing number of kidnapping cases in the Philippines. That's what we are banking on," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement, as he credits the government's "relentless and proactive stance in its peace and order program."
The cabinet official also cited police data showing a dip in kidnapping cases last year.
"[T]here were only 68 cases of kidnapping in the country in 2018, majority of which were in Mindanao, 11 cases lower than in 2017. As of this writing, there are only 10 cases of kidnapping for 2019," Año said.
According to the US State Department travel advisory released Tuesday on its website, it included Philippines among 35 countries with increased risk of kidnapping or "K", a risk indicator it introduced recently.
It also categorized the country under "Level 2," advising Americans to exercise increased caution when traveling to the country.
Año, however, said he will raise the issue with the US Embassy and will seek more information regarding the list's parameters.
"We do not know yet how they came up with the list but . . . we see no basis for including us in this list. We will request from the US Embassy what were the parameters used since even Malaysia and Russia were included,” Año said.
The US State Department said the travel advisory is due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak, and kidnapping in the Philippines.
"Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting possible kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in the Philippines," the advisory said.
Travel advisories are issued for every country around the world, offering standardized levels of advice based on established risk indicators such as crime, terrorism, civil unrest, natural disasters, health, and other potential risks, the US State Department said.