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Philippines Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. State Department

Jun 06, 2001

A number of recent security-related incidents highlight the danger of travel in certain areas of the Philippines. Violence during recent political demonstrations, kidnappings of foreigners, and bombing incidents call for Americans to exercise great caution throughout the Philippines.

On June 5, 2001, a group of American Navy personnel on leave and their guides were fired upon by an armed group on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo. Americans are warned to avoid hiking or camping in this area.

On May 27, 2001, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnapped 20 tourists, including three Americans, from Palawan Island in the southern Philippines and took them by boat to Basilan Island. This followed a similar attack by an unknown group on May 22 on a resort on Samal Island near Davao City, Mindanao. That attack was repulsed with the loss of two Filipino lives. The ASG has taken hostage a number of Filipinos and foreign tourists since April 2000. Several were freed after payment of substantial ransoms, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed by their captors. The ASG or other groups may attack U.S. citizens and others again. Americans should exercise extreme caution when considering travel, especially to resorts on Mindanao or Palawan where the ASG has struck.

There have also been sporadic incidents of violence in southern Mindanao, including bombings in General Santos City and at the Cotabato Airport in Maguindanao Province, as well as bus hijackings on national highways. There are claims that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is responsible for these actions.

U.S. citizens are warned to avoid all travel to the southern and western areas of the island of Mindanao, to include Zamboanga City, due to incidents of terrorism and violence. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo located in the Sulu archipelago in the extreme southwest of the Philippines.

There was politically motivated violence in connection with the ouster of Philippine President Estrada in January 2001 and national elections in May 2001. The violence included demonstrations, bombings, riots, and attacks on candidates and their supporters. Although the violence has diminished, the possibility exists of further incidents.

In view of these incidents, and the possibility of future political violence, Americans are also urged to be particularly cautious in public areas and not approach or linger in the vicinity of a bomb-related incident. Americans are cautioned not to disturb suspicious objects or packages and should report any incidents to local authorities. If you are involved in or observe a bomb incident, immediately notify the Embassy.

For other information on terrorist activities in this region, refer to the Department of State's Public Announcement on Malaysia dated April 9, 2001. For further general information on travel to the Philippines, consult the Department's latest Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines, which is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcement of May 27, 2001, to provide updated security information and it expires October 31, 2001.

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