Roque: No increased terror threat in PH despite Australian travel advisory


Posted at Nov 04 2017 01:10 PM

Residents who stayed at evacuation centers during the five-month conflict in Marawi City make their way to the Basak, Malutlut district after they were allowed to return to their homes on Oct. 29, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - There is no increased terror threat in the country, Malacañang said Saturday as it sought to allay concerns over Australia's latest travel warning on the Philippines. 

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Australia's caution to its citizens issued Friday was "not a response to any specific threat." 

"The Philippine government has no information about any increased terror threat in the county and we assure our foreign friends that local authorities have been enforcing tight security measures, especially in populated areas, while we urge everyone to continue being aware of one’s surroundings," Roque said in a statement.

On Friday, Canberra warned its citizens against traveling to the Philippines due to a "high threat" of a terrorist attack, including in the country's capital.

Australia issued the advisory a week before world leaders, including United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe converge in Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Thousands of police and soldiers are expected to be deployed around Manila next week to tighten security in key areas where state leaders are expected to stay, and where meetings will be held.

"The deterioration in security in Mindanao has resulted in a more volatile security environment in the Philippines," Australia's statement read.

Australia also warned its citizens not to travel to central and western Mindanao due to threats of kidnapping and terror attacks, and possible clashes between armed groups.

It issued a specific warning on Marawi City, where 5 months of clashes between state forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists just ended

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Australia's warning was only as a reiteration its earlier travel warning.

Roque added that Canberra's general threat assessment on the Philippines "has remained the same as it was at the height of the Marawi rebellion, which we all know has already been resolved by our government forces."

Roque said the government understands Australia's concern, and that the Department of Foreign Affairs has been tasked to coordinate with other embassies to clarify the matter.

"We reiterate that generally, it is safe to work, study, do business, and travel in the Philippines," he said.