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Travel Warning: Philippines

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Consular Affairs issued a Travel Warning for the Philippines yesterday.  It reads as follows:

Philippines

January 05, 2012

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of terrorist activity in the Philippines. While most of the recent incidents of terror have occurred on the island of Mindanao and in the Sulu Archipelago, U.S. citizens are reminded that terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate and could occur in any area of the country, including Manila. Public gathering places may be targeted, including (but not limited to) airports, shopping malls, conference centers and other public venues. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated June 14, 2011, and reflects continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution if traveling to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. Regional terrorist groups have carried out bombings resulting in injuries and death. Sporadic clashes have occurred between criminal groups and the Philippine Armed Forces throughout Mindanao, particularly in rural areas. U.S. government employees must receive authorization from the Embassy to travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.Kidnap-for-ransom gangs continue to be active throughout the Philippines and have targeted foreigners, including U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling in the vicinity of demonstrations, since they can turn confrontational and possibly escalate to violence.

A state of emergency is in effect for the Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces, as well as for Cotabato City in Mindanao. Travelers should expect heightened police activity and a significant military presence in these areas as well as restrictions that Philippine government officials may impose on travel in those areas.

The Department of State remains concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. The Worldwide Caution reminds U.S. citizens that terrorism can occur anywhere.

We encourage all U.S. citizens in the Philippines to enroll with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. By enrolling, you can receive the Embassy’s most recent security and safety updates during your trip. Enrolling also ensures that we can reach you, or your designated emergency points of contact, during an emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000. The American Citizens Services (ACS) section’s fax number is 63-2-301-2017, and you may reach the ACS Section by email at ACSinfoManila@state.gov. The ACS Section’s website includes consular information and the most recent messages to the U.S. citizen community in the Philippines.

U.S. citizens should also review the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for the Philippines and stay up to date by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and become a fan of the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips. If you don’t have internet access, current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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