MANILA—The Armed Forces of the Philippines respects the US government’s decision to issue a travel advisory warning its citizens of possible kidnapping attempts by terrorist groups in Palawan but has yet to detect any threat that could compromise the safety of tourists visiting the island, a military official said Wednesday.
“We respect the issuance of (the US) travel advisory. We recognize that it is both an obligation and right of a sovereign state. We do that to our own nationals sojourning abroad,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
In its website, the US Embassy warned its citizens against traveling to Palawan as it has received credible information that some terrorist groups are planning to abduct foreign nationals in the province.
Threatened by purported terrorist activities in Palawan are Puerto Princesa City and areas surrounding the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
“But in so far as that report is concerned, we have not monitored any threat specific to Palawan. But that doesn’t mean that we are taking the report lightly, although the AFP is not the source of that information made as the basis of the US travel advisory,” he added.
Whether this is a threat or not, Arevalo said the AFP takes all reports seriously and they will continue their monitoring activities and remain vigilant of all eventualities.
He however also clarified that they are not deploying additional forces in Palawan to counter this report.
“We are not deploying more troops apart from those airmen, sailors, marines and select units of the army in the area for the moment. But definitely our techniques, tactics, and procedures are evolving to address ‘thinking enemies’ who adjust theirs, as well as pose terror threats,” Arevalo pointed out.
With this development, the AFP official urged all Palaweños to “remain calm and vigilant and actively participate in strengthening their security posture”.
“We would like to cite the Bohol experience where we defeated and frustrated the attempts of that terror group through the cooperation of the local government, the local residents, and security forces. Security is a shared concern and responsibility of everybody,” Arevalo said.
He also urged all concerned citizens to report their observations to security forces that have the capability and capacity to validate reports on suspicious activities, individuals, unattended luggage or articles, and the like.
“We need their vigilance and active participation to defeat terror threats,” he said.