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AFP sees no threat in Central Visayas despite US travel advisory

The Armed Forces of Philippines has not detected any serious threat to tourism in Central Philippines despite the travel advisory issued by the United States Embassy, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Monday.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, however, said government forces remained vigilant and proactive to deter any threats.

“Although our government has not detected any serious threats to tourism in Central Philippines, our security forces are ever vigilant and proactively engaged to deter any threats posed on travelers specially during the long holidays this week,” Padilla said in a statement.

Padilla urged the public to be vigilant and cooperate with authorities, as well.

“Our security posture as a community and as nation though can be  enhanced further if our citizens remain vigilant, alert and always mindful of their surroundings to prevent any disturbance to the peace they enjoy,” Padilla said.

“Everyone is also encouraged to closely cooperate with authorities at all times. We are all here for you ready and at your service,” he added.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs office chief, said the military is committed to ensuring  the safety, security, and well-being of people residing in or sojourning in the Philippines- whether Filipinos or nationals of other countries.

He said the AFP has instituted measures and proactive steps to ensure the public’s safety and security.

“Arrests have been made of people with links or possibly connected to local or international terrorist organizations. We have been successful so far in warding off security threats without announcing the meritorious results,” he said.

Both Padilla and Arevalo said they respect the right of the US government to protect their citizens by issuing advisories that they 'should be mindful of the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines.

“The US which has a significant number of citizens who travel do this regularly as a precautionary means to protect its citizens. The PH does the same in as far as its OFWs are concerned & even goes to the extreme of halting their deployments if necessary in order to protect them,” said Padilla.

Arevalo said AFP will actively collaborate with its American counterparts, and those from other countries when warranted, to address any security concerns.

On Sunday, the US Embassy advised its citizens in Central Visayas against possible abductions by members of extremist groups.

"US citizens are advised to carefully consider this information as you make your travel plans, and to review personal security plans, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and remain vigilant at all times," the travel advisory said.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday confirmed receiving information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas.

Dela Rosa, however, said they have already implemented measures to thwart these.

“Mayroon tayong preparation for that. I was briefed by the regional director of PRO7 (Chief Supt Noli Taliño of Police Regional Office 7) na may na-monitor nga silang ganoon,” Dela Rosa said in a press conference.

“Then mayroon namang kaukulang aksyon na ginawa ang ating RD ng PRO7 para  ma-thwart itong mga threat na ito,” he said.

Dela Rosa added he cannot give yet the full details as what was given to him were general information on the situation.

“Suffice it to say that we have monitored and we are ready to face the threat and pinaghandaan natin ‘yan. Generic (information) ‘yung sinabi sa akin ng regional director,” he said. —NB, GMA News