MALACAÑANG on Saturday, November 4, assured the public that there was no “increased” terror threat in the Philippines.

In a statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told foreign countries that it remains safe to travel to the Philippines as the security personnel continue to tighten security measures to counter potential threats from extremist groups.

“The Philippine government has no information about any increased terror threat in the country 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,” Roque said.

“We reiterate that generally, it is safe to work, study, do business, and travel [to] the Philippines,” he added.

Roque issued the remark a day after Australia sternly warned its citizens against traveling to the Philippines, citing “high threat” of terrorist attack in Manila, the country’s capital.

Australia reminded its citizens to exercise heightened caution and be alert to possible threats in the some areas in the Philippines that have “low level” of protective security and are possible terrorists’ “targets.”

“There is a high threat of terrorist attack in the Philippines, including Manila,” Canberra said in its travel advisory. “Exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.”

Australia also alerted its citizens to avoid going to Mindanao because of “very high treat” of kidnapping, terrorist attack, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups.

“The deterioration in security in Mindanao has resulted in a more volatile security environment in the Philippines,” it said.

The warning came after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared on October 23 the end of war in strife-torn Marawi City, which was occupied by Islamic State-back Maute terrorist group on May 23.

On October 17, President Rodrigo Duterte announced Marawi’s liberation, a day after extremist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed.

In a press conference on Friday, military spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla admitted that there might still be around 36 Maute stragglers but stressed that they are “leaderless” who were merely “fighting for their survival.”

Roque said the Philippine government understands that Australia has to issue a warning to ensure safety and security of its citizens who wish to stay in the Philippines.

“We understand the concern of the Australian government cautioning its citizens on the Philippines safety or security risks. We verified with Australian officials and that the advisory is not a response to any specific threat,” he said.

“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. Also, the Department of Foreign Affairs has coordinated with other embassies and there is no change in travel advisories on the Philippines issued by other countries,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)