Australia warns against travel to PH, cites 'high threat of terror attack'


Posted at Nov 03 2017 05:30 PM | Updated as of Nov 03 2017 11:49 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Australia on Friday warned its citizens against traveling to the Philippines due to a "high threat" of a terrorist attack, including in the country's capital.

Canberra alerted its citizens to exercise heightened caution and to be alert regarding possible threats in the Philippines.

"There is a high threat of terrorist attack in the Philippines, including Manila," Australia said in its latest travel advisory.

"Exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country," it added.

Australia also warned its citizens not to travel to central and western Mindanao due to kidnapping treats, terrorist attack, and clashes between armed groups.

It however urged its citizens to reconsider the need to travel to eastern Mindanao due to "very high levels of violent crime and the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping."

"The deterioration in security in Mindanao has resulted in a more volatile security environment in the Philippines," Australia added.

"Be alert to possible threats around locations that have a low level of protective security and places known to be possible terrorist targets."

Even after Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana declared the end of combat operations in Marawi City, Australia in its travel advisory still urged its citizens to remain vigilant when in the area.

"There are ongoing clashes between government forces and militants in Marawi City, Mindanao. If you are in Marawi City, exercise heightened vigilance and review your personal security plans," it said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Major Gen. Restituto Padilla said Australia's warning is a reiteration of a previous travel advisory issued in May.

"It was reissued in a more succinct manner and may have an update next week following the end of combat operations in Marawi," he said.

National Defense Public Affairs Service Chief Arsenio Andolong meanwhile said the travel advisory is part of the Australian government's normal procedure.

"Actually it's a normal procedure for governments through their embassies to issue advisories to their nationals who are overseas considering the spate of activities that have [happened] abroad, and of particular concern is the possibility of lone wolf terrorist attacks like what happened in the United States," he said.

The United Kingdom last month issued an advisory to its citizens, warning against traveling to Mindanao following possible clashes between armed militant groups and state forces.

-- Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News