Philippines downplays British travel alert due to terror threats

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-02 21:17:42|Editor: xuxin
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MANILA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine security authorities downplayed the travel alert reissued on Wednesday by Britain which warned its citizens against possible terror attacks in southern Philippines.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups," Britain said in a travel advisory on Wednesday.

The travel advisory was originally issued on Dec. 27, 2018, a few days before an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded at the entrance of a shopping mall in Cotabato City on the last day of 2018, killing two people and injured more than 30 others. Another IED was found at the same mall and the authorities carried out a controlled explosion.

Britain reissued the travel alert on Jan. 2.

According to Britain, around 150,000 British nationals visit the Philippines every year.

However, the Philippine defense and military officials sought to downplay the advisory issued by Britain.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the British advisory is "an automatic and default warning of the governments to their nationals like we also do when these things happen in other countries."

"It is normal and ordinary. We hear about these advisories all the time," Lorenzana added.

Asked if the defense and military establishments have information if a similar attack is imminent, Lorenzana said "No, we don't have indications that there will be other bombings."

Chief Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Benjamin Madrigal said it is the prerogative of Britain to issue the advisory "to look after the welfare of their nationals."

"On our part, we are enhancing our security measures to prevent a repeat of that incident," Madrigal said.

Nevertheless, Madrigal stressed the need to be vigilant, urging people to report suspicious activities to the military.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said in a tweet message that the advisory is a "fair warning."