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Amid terror threats, security tightened at transport stations

Malacañang said security at airports, seaports, and train stations have been tightened amid warnings from other countries about possible terror attacks on the Philippines. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Administrator Jose Angel Honrado has imposed security measures on incoming cargo after a foiled terror attack on the United States last week. On Friday, authorities in Yemen seized two explosive packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues in the United States and packed aboard cargo jets in England and the United Arab Emirates. Valte said Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) security are also on "heightened alert." Authorities have increased the deployment of bomb-sniffing K-9 units and added foot patrol in the vicinity as preemptive measures against possible attacks. Five countries--the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States--have issued travel advisories warning their citizens against possible terror attacks in the Philippines. The US said in its travel advisory that the targeted sites may include public gathering places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers, including American citizens, such as shopping malls, airports, conference centers, and other public venues. Valte said Malacañang will not ask the public to refrain from going to public places. However, the Palace said the people should be vigilant and decide for themselves what extra safety measures they should take. "The goal of any terorrist is to instill terror. Ang counter lang po ng taumbayan diyan is to be increasing vigilant," she said. "Nasa kanila po yun kung ano iinstitute nilang security measures in place." (It's up to them what security measures they would institute.) Asked if the government is worried that the alleged terror threats would affect tourism, Valte said "the only thing we can do at this point is to assure everybody that we're taking the appropriate measures to secure the populace." Metro Manila remains under red alert. Malacañang has said that they are still validating reports of possible terror threats in the Philippines. Travel advisory The US issued on Wednesday (Manila time) a warning against traveling to the Philippines due to “high risk" of terrorist activity not only in Mindanao but also in Manila. “Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate and could occur not only in the southern islands but also in other areas, to include Manila," the US’ travel warning read. New Zealand travelers were also advised on Wednesday (Manila time) of “extreme risk" of traveling to the Philippines, particularly in the southern provinces of Basilan and Sulu. The US’ and New Zealand’s travel warnings came days after three other countries – Australia, United Kingdom and Canada – issued similar travel advisories to their nationals, following the foiled terror attack on the US. Eduardo Malaya, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said the government understands the "need of foreign embassies to issue travel advisories for their respective nationals." In a statement issued on Wednesday, Malaya said: "They have an obligation to look after the safety and security of their nationals here, in the same way that our Philippine diplomats look after the security and welfare of Filipinos overseas." "Our expectation is that whenever foreign embassies have intelligence information about any terrorist threat which may be useful to our security agencies, they will convey it to our side in a timely manner. We have been informed that such has been done recently," he added. "These reports and advisories need to be seen in perspective, as most are re-issuance of previous travel advisories. It is best to exercise care and caution, but there is no need to overreact," Malaya said. – VVP, GMANews.TV