THE Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) has tightened its security in the towns of southern Cebu.
This, after the United Kingdom (UK) issued a travel advisory that warns its citizens not to travel to Mindanao and southern Cebu, following the bombing of South Seas Mall in Cotabato City that killed two persons and wounded 34 others.
“Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines. 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),” the advisory said.
CPPO Director Manuel Abrugena said he ordered all chiefs of police to be alert after the mall bombing in Cotabato City.
The police official, however, said there is no immediate threat in southern Cebu and that Cebu province is safe.
Abrugena said their security plan focuses on the towns of Badian, Dalaguete and Oslob whose beaches are frequented by local and foreign tourists.
He said Task Force Cebu, a joint team of police and military personnel, is securing southern Cebu, including its beaches and ports.
The CPPO, he said, coordinates with the intelligence community of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In August 2018, the UK released a similar travel advisory.
Abrugena trusted the public to report any suspicious-looking person, which is what the residents in Inabanga, Bohol did two years ago.
The CPPO’s intelligence branch has tapped the Muslim community to make sure that no terrorists can sneak into Cebu province.
Meanwhile, daily tours to the south of Cebu continue despite the UK’s travel warning.
Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists president Alice Queblatin Wednesday, Jan. 2 said “they look forward to sustaining arrivals and movements for the rest of the month and further, but they are cautious and will maintain vigilance on unexpected events.”
The UK government warned its citizens against traveling to Mindanao over terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.
The travel warning though extended its scope “to all but essential travel to the rest of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.”
Queblatin said the country is used to advisories against travel to Mindanao, but she said the south of Cebu came as a surprise as there haven’t been any untoward incident in Dalaguete or Badian.
“Our daily tours to these places are ongoing; no cancellations; and continuous inquiries from other strong markets are keeping Cebu’a tourism alive,” she said.
Carlo Suarez, president of Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu said that while they take note of this warning, they see travel advisories not affecting or disrupting the travel behavior of tourists to Cebu.
Suarez echoed Queblatin’s statement that Cebu is used to these travel advisories, but these warnings have not caused a major slump in terms of arrivals and travel interests.
“It is good to have these warnings for everyone’s safety, but the biggest concern is how our local governments act on these warnings,” said Suarez.
The south of Cebu is home to a number of tourist attractions, like Oslob’s whale watching, Sumilon island, waterfalls, and pristine beaches. (KOC / FROM AYB OF SUPERBALITA CEBU / KAL)