THE British government on Tuesday, August 14, issued an updated travel advisory advising its nationals against traveling to Palawan because of a heightened risk from kidnapping.
In a statement posted on its official website gov.uk, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also advised against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.
Except for "essential travel," British nationals are also discouraged from traveling to southern Cebu, "up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism."
London also warned its citizens that "there's a high incidence of street crime and robbery throughout the Philippines. You should take sensible precautions."
The statement warned that prison sentences in the Philippines are severe.
"The judicial system can result in long-term detention until a court hearing takes place. Detention facilities are far below UK standards. Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are particularly severe," it added.
The British government noted that martial law is in place in Mindanao until end-2018 while a "state of national emergency emergency on account of lawless violence" remains in place across the rest of the country.
"Expect random checkpoints, security patrols and a more visible routine security presence. You should cooperate with the Philippine authorities and allow extra time to pass through security checks. Make sure you carry a form of identification with you," the advisory stated.
British citizens were warned that terrorist groups have continued to plan attacks "anytime and anywhere in the country," including in Manila.
"There’s been an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals, including attacks targeting foreigners and tourists since late 2015. Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines," the British government stated.
"This threat extends throughout the Philippines, both on land and at sea, but is particularly acute in the southern Philippines (Mindanao, Palawan and central Visayas, including Siquijor and Dumaguete)," it added.
The same advisory noted, however, that most of the visits by British nationals to the Philippines have been "trouble-free." Around 154,000 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2015. (SunStar Philippines)