THE United States (US) State Department has named the Philippines as one of the 35 countries with high risk of kidnapping.
Malacañang, however, guaranteed Thursday, April 14, that the police and military are always "on alert," thus, ready to deal with any potential security threats.
The US State Department, in an April travel advisory posted on its official website, warned travelers to exercise "increased caution" in the Philippines "due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak, and kidnapping."
It also advised its citizens not to travel to the Sulu Archipelago, Sulu Sea, and Marawi City, citing continued kidnappings on land and at sea for ransom, bombings, and other attacks by terrorist and armed groups, targeting US citizens.
"The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in the Sulu Archipelago and Sulu Sea as US government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to those areas," it said.
Travelers were also told to reconsider travel to other areas of Mindanao because of "risk of death or injury due to conflict between remnants of terrorist groups and Philippine security forces."
"Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting possible kidnappings, bombings, and other attack in the Philippines," the US State Department said.
"Terrorist and armed groups may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, market/shopping malls, and local government facilities. The Philippine government has declared a "State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao,'" it added.
But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the incidence of kidnapping "happens to every country."
He, nevertheless, stressed that personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have their own way to prevent cases of abduction.
"Somehow, may makakalusot at makakalusot (Somehow, there are cases of kidnapping). It happens to every country," the Palace official said.
"Well, 'yung PNP naman natin at saka lahat ng military, palagi silang on alert. Mayroon silang mga intelligence surveillance (Well, the PNP and the AFP are always on alert. They have intelligence surveillance)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)