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PNP validating US Embassy's info on terrorists kidnapping plan in Palawan

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday said it is validating the United States Embassy's "credible information" that terrorists are planning to kidnap foreigners in Palawan province.

"The PNP is validating all information," PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos told GMA News Online.

Carlos assured that the PNP will "take necessary precautionary and security measures" if the information is verified.

“Stricter security measures will be undertaken while we are verifying the said information,” Carlos said.

He said the PNP will issue an advisory to the public once the information has been verified.

“If everybody's aware, everybody's vigilant, they will not have the chance. We are limiting the chance or removing the chance of these groups conducting criminal act or threat towards our peace loving citizenry and foreign tourists that are in the area,” Carlos said.

Carlos said they coordinate with different foreign embassies, through the PNP's foreign liaison division, if they receive any reports of a credible threat from intelligence units.

“The different embassies here in Manila, we have contact. Of course, yung pagre-release nila ng travel advisory, tama yun, that's for the benefit of their nationals. When such happen, we respect that,” Carlos said.

“We also share with them what we have on the ground and information that we have from our intelligence units. So ongoing pa rin naman 'yan. Meron tayong exchange of information,” he said.

Carlos, meanwhile, said the PNP has security measures in place to protect tourists in Palawan and other provinces citing Oplan Ligtas Sumvac or Ligtas Summer Vacation 2017.

“We still have our Ligtas SumVac in effect, making sure of police presence in the area,” Carlos said, adding that the PNP will add security measures once the threat is verified.

“Now, with additional information, once verified, we will make the necessary announcement and necessary security measures if and when these are validated,” Carlos said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command, meanwhile, posted a statement on Facebook assuring the public and tourists that Palawan is safe.

The US Embassy issued a travel warning on Palawan province, including Puerto Princesa City and "areas surrounding the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park."

The embassies of United Kingdom and Canada relayed the US Embassy's travel advisory to its citizens.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa had previously confirmed the US Embassy's April 9 advisory, where it cautioned its citizens against pushing through with their planned trips to Central Visayas, particularly in Bohol and Cebu, due to threats of kidnapping by a terror group.

Two days after the US Embassy issued the travel warning, a group led by Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Muammar Askali slipped into Bohol.

The bandits' presence was immediately detected by police and military forces. Askali and several members of his group were killed by the military in separate clashes.

The military said its troops are hunting down two more Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol. —Joseph Tristan Roxas/ALG, GMA News