Security tightened in Palawan amid United States travel alert Featured

Elias Hubbard
May 13, 2017

Abella made the statement after the United States (US) and Britain warned their citizens of threats of kidnapping of foreigners by terrorist groups in some resorts in Palawan.

Until recently, foreign governments had not warned of kidnapping threats in the central and western Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte took the warning seriously after the three countries warned their citizens against traveling to Palawan amid "credible information" that groups were planning to kidnap foreign nationals there.

In a travel advisory, the Embassy advised U.S. citizens to avoid going to Palawan, including Puerto Princesa City and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, among the province's most popular spots. He said resort owners have been lending their own speedboats and planes to help security forces monitor possible entry points for terrorists.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines continues to provide tightened security and monitoring in Palawan, following the US Embassy's pronouncement that it has received "credible information" on terrorists' plan to kidnap foreigners in the area.

Security forces found the militants a day after they arrived on speedboats from Bohol, which is 500 kilometers north from the Abu Sayyaf's bases, and engaged them in a gun battle.

The United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also updated their travel advice for the Philippines to include the US Embassy advisory. "What looms very high ahead is the IS, they are coming in", he said, Manila Standard reports.

In its latest warning, the US Embassy cautioned Americans from going to Palawan, telling them they could be subjected to kidnapping and other terroristic acts by terrorists and other lawless groups.

It typically raids coastal areas after sailing from its southern island strongholds on speedboats, although in recent years it has also attacked cargo and merchant ships.

On February 17 this year, the Abu Sayyaf released a video showing a machete-wielding bandit behead 70-year old Jurgen Kantner of Germany, after a deadline for a P30-million ransom demand lapsed.

Duterte a year ago ordered a major military offensive to extinguish the Abu Sayyaf on their southern bases, but the militant threat continued to grow.

The group quoted Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's disappointment over the doubling of number of kidnapped victims from 18 to31 even after Duterte assumed the presidency and deployed 10,000 troops to Sulu and declared a State of Lawlessness.

"We have a problem with terrorism". "We assure everyone that the government is on top of the situation and authorities, particularly those in the Western Command (WESCOM) which covers the province of Palawan, are on heightened alert to prevent any untoward incidents", he added. "All our units and assets are being utilized to ensure maximum security", WesCom said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page.

"We see to it that we are always a step further on security".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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