US travel advisory upsets Manila

Updated On: Feb 22, 2005

Manila– The three apparently coordinated bomb explosions which shook thePhilippineson Valetine’s Day have left the country bracing itself for further terrorist attacks. Still, the government felt that the US State Department had “over-reacted” by issuing an advisory warning on travel to thePhilippines.

In its Feb 18 travel advisory to American citizens, the US State Department said that terrorist threats in thePhilippinesremain high, with more bombings predicted.

The Feb 14 bombings are believed to be linked to the on-going clashesbetween the Philippine military and a loose rebel alliance comprisingmembers of the Abu Sayyaf gang and followers of jailed separatist leader Nur Misuari inJoloIslandin the southernprovinceofSulu.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said theUSadvisory isat odds with what the Philippine government has been advising the public to do – carry on with their daily activities as normal.

"What is important is that the public, authorities, police and local government officials are working together to monitor the situation. But we should go about our normal activities," he said.

Two Philippine lawmakers also described theUS advisoryas “alarmist”, which they said iscontrary toWashington’s own policy of notletting terrorist threats to curtail people’s daily lives.

"The US advisory overlooked the efforts by local authorities to counter terror threats as it focused on merely providing an overly-alarmist rating on the terrorist threat in the country," Cebu City Representative Antonio Cuenco and Bulacan Representative Lorna Silverio said in a joint statement.

However, they also urged the Philippine authorities against automatically discounting theUSadvisory. They said the government should work alongside American officials in quelling any threat.

"Prudence dictates that we take all threats seriously," RepresentativeSilverio said.

*Govt on US travel advisory: Overkill (The Philippine Star, Feb 21)

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