MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang asserted on Saturday, November 5, that the Philippines remains safe despite Australia's latest warning about a "high threat" of terrorism in the Southeast Asian country.
"We reiterate that generally it is safe to work, study, do business, and travel in the Philippines," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr said in a statement Saturday morning.
Roque explained that Australia's travel advisory was "not a response to any specific threat." He said the Philippine government verified this with Australian officials.
"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," he noted.
He said the Philippine government also has no information about any increased terror threat in the country, and that there is no change in travel advisories on the Philippines issued by other countries.
"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.
No cause for alarm – DND
Australia on Friday, November 3, warned its citizens about a "high threat" of a terror attack in the Philippines, urging Australians to "exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines overall."
"There is a high threat of terrorist attack in the Philippines, including Manila. Exercise heightened caution at this time," Australia said in a November 3 travel advisory.
The advisory came after the Philippine government ended a 5-month battle against terrorists in Marawi City.
The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) also reacted to the travel advisory, saying it is only a reiteration of an earlier advisory issued last May.
"This should not be a cause for undue alarm since issuing regular travel advisories to citizens is commonly practiced by many countries, including Australia, especially in light of the spate of violent incidents that have been happening all over the world in recent times," DND Public Affairs Service Director Arsenio Andolong said in a separate statement.
He enjoined the public to remain vigilant, and to report any suspicious activities to proper authorities.
"Let us all be mindful of our surroundings and work closely with government security forces to ensure that terrorism and violent extremism do not take root in our villages, towns, and cities. Together, let us make our communities safer," he added. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.