Australian travel advisory should not cause "undue alarm": DND
The travel advisory issued by the Australian government on possible terrorist attack in the Philippines should not cause undue alarm, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Saturday.
“This should not be a cause for undue alarm since issuing regular travel advisories to citizens is commonly practiced by many countries, including Australia, especially in light of the spate of violent incidents that have been happening all over the world in recent times,” Arsenio Andolong, Department of National Defense public affairs service chief, said in a statement.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said the latest advisory that was issued by the Australian government is just a reiteration of the travel advisory they issued more than five months ago.
“The AFP has verified the matter with the Australian embassy and has found out that the travel advisory is a reiteration of previous travel advisory issued earlier 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.
“It is just a reiteration. The threat that they perceived in May is the same. So reiteration because their previous advisory is to wordy, now they shortened it, they make it easier to read...we don’t want to be alarmist. That is what Australia said,” he added.
In another statement, Acting Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque also emphasized according to the Australian government the advisory is “not a response to any specific threat” in the country.
“We verified with Australian officials and that the advisory is not a response to any specific threat. Their general threat assessment has remained the same as it was the height of the Marawi rebellion, which we all know has already been resolved by our government forces,” he said.
“Also, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has coordinated with other embassies and there is no change in travel advisories on the Philippines issued by other countries,” he added.
Amid the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit in the country, Roque also assures foreign travelers the Philippines is a safe country.
“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,” he said
“We reiterate that generally it is safe to work, study, do business, and travel in the Philippines,” he added.
However, the DND still urged people to remain vigilant and report to authorities any suspicious individuals or items they may notice in their communities.
“We enjoin everyone to remain vigilant and report to the proper authorities any suspicious activities in your area,” Andolong said.
“Let us all be mindful of our surroundings and work closely with government security forces to ensure that terrorism and violent extremism do not take root in our villages, towns, and cities,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS