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BonVoyage

Security situation on Mindanao

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BossHog
1 hour ago, BonVoyage said:

Some years ago I investigated the possibilities of doing the zip-line at Lake Sebu. I was in Davao but finally decided not to go, even at that time.

I have traveled extensively in f.ex S. America and Africa, but I am still not sure is advisable to go to Cotabato. My guess is it is safer than what media and American Embassy state. But I have no idea if that is sufficient.

Thanks to all who add information here.

I met an American and his Filipina wife a few days ago and they'd just spent a few weeks in Cotabato visiting her family and traveled around quite a bit to the tourist sites. Said they had no problems. Not sure of their mode of transportation. They were traveling with their nine-year old son and twelve-year old daughter.

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BonVoyage
45 minutes ago, Tullioz said:

You probably should have taken the opportunity to go to Lake Sebu when you had the chance. Foreigners are still going there, but the risks are much higher than before. As for the embassy warnings from various countries, for once they seem to have it right about the current situation in Mindanao. In most cases they are a bit overblown regardless of the country or region they are issued for, but this time they have it right. 

You go to Cotabato and others go there but you advise against it. There has not been any recent incidents with foreigners. It is hard to get a grip on this.

2 minutes ago, BossHog said:

I met an American and his Filipina wife a few days ago and they'd just spent a few weeks in Cotabato visiting her family and traveled around quite a bit to the tourist sites. Said they had no problems. Not sure of their mode of transportation. They were traveling with their nine-year old son and twelve-year old daughter.

Thanks. Recent first hand accounts are really very valuable imho.

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M.C.A.
1 hour ago, BonVoyage said:

Some years ago I investigated the possibilities of doing the zip-line at Lake Sebu. I was in Davao but finally decided not to go, even at that time.

I have traveled extensively in f.ex S. America and Africa, but I am still not sure is advisable to go to Cotabato. My guess is it is safer than what media and American Embassy state. But I have no idea if that is sufficient.

Thanks to all who add information here.

Can you do the zipline in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island,"Sabang X Zipline" As a last resort?

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BonVoyage
2 hours ago, M.C.A. said:

Can you do the zipline in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island,"Sabang X Zipline" As a last resort?

Thanks for the idea. But there are also many more things on Mindanao I would like to see. And the zip-line at Lake Sebu is unique, highest in Asia I believe. Looks amazing on Youtube.

Edited by BonVoyage
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Tullioz
5 hours ago, BonVoyage said:

You go to Cotabato and others go there but you advise against it. There has not been any recent incidents with foreigners. It is hard to get a grip on this.

It's up to the individual as to how comfortable they are in traveling to areas where known terrorists exist. You are well traveled so you would probably be more comfortable than most. I continue to travel to these places because I know the areas that I am going well and also know a lot of people that live there. That still doesn't mean that I am completely safe though.

There have been no incidents involving foreigners yet in that region, but if members of the BIFF or the AKG who are the primary groups on that part of the island have an opportunity to abduct a foreigner or a group of foreigners they will. It would all come down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that is why I would advise against traveling there at this time to others. 

Here is a recent story where a member of the AKG group was arrested in Gen San a couple of weeks ago. 

Quote

Member of pro-IS Ansar al Khilafah arrested in General Santos City

Central Mindanao police arrested a suspected member of the pro-Islamic State Ansar al Khilafah Philippines (AKP) during an operation in General Santos City on Tuesday.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/909479/member-of-pro-is-ansar-al-khilafah-arrested-in-general-santos-city#ixzz4muSBI6hV

Below is part of an article that came out about a week ago where South Cotabato is mentioned. This analyst has the same opinion as I do in thinking the worst is yet to come. Maybe he gets his information from the same sources since his comments sound a lot like what I have been saying here since late May. 

Quote

THE DANGEROUS IMPLICATIONS OF ISIS HOLDING ON TO MARAWI IN THE PHILIPINES

JULY 8, 2017 08:34

Pawel Wojcik, an analyst who tracks jihadist movements and has been following battles for Marawi for mPolska.pl, a Polish media outlet, says this year’s attack was long expected.

“Insurgent attacks were increasing across Lanao del Sur and islands further south.”

He says that Isnilon gathered numerous groups under a unified command and the attack on Marawi on May 23 shows how ISIS in the Philippines is being changed. “The worst is yet to come.”

After ISIS established itself in Marawi the Philippine Army thought they could dislodge the extremists but have found themselves in a month long battle that continues to stretch on. Hundreds have been killed, including dozens of soldiers and civilians.

Reports remind one of how ISIS operated in Mosul and Raqqa. A report at ABS-CBN News notes “bomb proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons hidden in mosques, human shields, mastery of the terrain.” As in Mosul, ISIS has burned churches, kidnapped priests and non-Muslim women and attacked a local college. In turn the government declared martial law across Mindanao.

Wojcik says East Asia jihadist forums see Marawi as a success and the longer the battle lasts, the more propaganda ISIS gets. He warns the new attacks may occur in South Cotabato and threaten the region.

http://www.jpost.com/International/The-dangerous-implications-of-ISIS-holding-on-to-Marawi-in-the-Philipines-499097

There was this incident last month that shows these groups are planning further Marawi type attacks. 

Quote

THE military foiled a plan by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to launch a Marawi-like siege on Cotabato City, a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Sunday.

“The BIFF was able to mobilize maybe about 200 men plus more than 100 men from different private and criminal armed groups to launch a siege in Cotabato City. But they could not cross military lines so they just terrorized communities in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato,” a military commander based in Central Mindanao said.

Based on an intelligence report, a copy of which was obtained by Manila Standard, the BIFF was among “other possible threat groups” that could conduct terrorist acts in some parts of Central Mindanao while government forces were focused on defeating the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in Marawi.

“The BIFF’s plans will be mostly launched in Maguindanao and Cotabato City,” the report said.

The military might have foiled a Cotabato City siege but it is closely monitoring the deployment of some BIFF elements in the Davao region.

“The monitored presence of BIFF elements in Davao region suggests that they could have established networks in the area as well as focused their activities on trainings to enhance their military capabilities,” the source said.

The military was doing everything to avert “test mission bombings” after these BIFF training and surveillance activities.

It said key cities, including Davao, are “probable targets” of these terror acts.

http://thestandard.com.ph/news/top-stories/240301/another-marawi-foiled-in-cotabato.html

 

 

Edited by Tullioz

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rep1
8 hours ago, Headshot said:

Prior to the last election, I predicted that within the next presidential term (regardless of who won) there would be at least a 50% chance of civil war in the Philippines. I still believe that, but it hasn't quite gotten to that point yet. However, the stage is certainly set, if the parties in this mess continue on as they have, to drag the country into a full-blown civil war.

civil war between who? The military has split?

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PhilsFan

We have made the decsion that if fighting begins in Illigan city, or bombing of malls and other public areas becomes common in the larger Metro areas, we are packing up all our stuff and leaving CDO. Probably move to Cebu unless that is a target, too.

 

I am concerned that ISIS in middle-east will migrate to SE Asia hoping to re-grow their organization here. 

Edited by PhilsFan
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BonVoyage

Well. To ask a question in a little bit provocative way: Has the martial law on Mindanao changed anything? Most things sound like before: You are safe in CdO and Davao and probably in most northern/eastern villages. You are allowed to go to Cotabato but it is not really recommended.

Of course the situation in Marawi may have changed dramatically but that is not due to the martial law. It is due to the conflict.

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State Trooper

I live about 1 hour south of Butuan in Agusan Sur. Checkpoints going south out of Butuan are manned with both military and police. They stop every vehicle and ask passengers for ID. Ive seen them take passengers with no ID off buses and V-hires and photograph them, take info but then they send them on their way. However those passengers now have to get a new ride since the bus/v-hire didnt wait on them.

In Bayugan there is usually at least 1 checkpoint with military and police. I see police cadets at just about every corner, More military trucks around and the police doing more patrols.

I feel safer but Ive heard from neighbors part of the Maute group was found near Esperanza about 10km from me. I dont go out at night and defer all but essential travel out of the province.

Edited by State Trooper
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Headshot
9 hours ago, rep1 said:

civil war between who? The military has split?

Both the Islamists and the NPA are threats for civil war. I said civil war, not a coup. When the military revolts, it is called a coup.

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Tullioz
9 hours ago, PhilsFan said:

We have made the decsion that if fighting begins in Illigan city, or bombing of malls and other public areas becomes common in the larger Metro areas, we are packing up all our stuff and leaving CDO. Probably move to Cebu unless that is a target, too.

 

I am concerned that ISIS in middle-east will migrate to SE Asia hoping to re-grow their organization here. 

ISIS has already made it publicly known that the caliphate will fall in Iraq and Syria, so those who are willing to continue the fight will be going to places like Afghanistan, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Since Mindanao already has several groups who have pledged allegiance to the IS and has shown its capability to put up a good fight, many foreign fighters will be drawn here. 

In addition to there being confirmed foreigners from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Chechnya, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, it looks like Turkish terrorists may also be migrating to the area. 

Quote

 

Turkish terrorists in PH – envoy

TURKISH terrorists have reached the Philippines and are active in Mindanao using charity organizations and education institutions as fronts, Turkey’s Ambassador to Manila Esra Cankorur warned on Thursday.

Cankorur said that the Fetullah Gulen or FETO, a “secretive and sinister” group, was behind the failed coup in Turkey last year. The foiled government takeover left 250 people dead and thousands hurt.

Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the military was verifying the report.

Cankorur said the Feto group had portrayed itself as a religious movement, an educational institution and a charity group. In the Philippines, it has affiliated with schools and a business chamber.

“Although they present themselves as a religious movement they were able to launch a coup. So this is an indication of what they are capable of,” the ambassador said.

“It was not a traditional military coup, it was a group of people infiltrating into the Turkish armed forces,” she added.

Cankorur said the secretive nature of the organization made it very dangerous.

Read more: http://www.manilatimes.net/turkish-terrorists-ph-envoy/338269/

 

 

Edited by Tullioz
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TequilaSunset
1 hour ago, Headshot said:

Both the Islamists and the NPA are threats for civil war. I said civil war, not a coup. When the military revolts, it is called a coup.

Still wouldn't be a Civil War though with all the foreigners on the Muslim side... closer to Gorilla Warfare of sorts... better yet an Unholy War

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M.C.A.

I watched the last beheading videos of the two Aussies and it was a wake up call and I can't understand what the draw is to Mindanao? Is it a huge difference?  Or is it all about the friends, I find it hard to believe we can't make friends or beautiful spots nearly anywhere in the Philippines so why chance or gamble your life?

Edited by M.C.A.
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Headshot
20 minutes ago, TequilaSunset said:

Still wouldn't be a Civil War though with all the foreigners on the Muslim side... closer to Gorilla Warfare of sorts... better yet an Unholy War

Many of the fighters in the Spanish Civil War were foreigners. Civil war only requires that the primary fighters be domestic.

Edited by Headshot
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RogerDat

Was not the American civil war about trying to separate from the parent goverment thru the use of force? The revolutionary war was similar in concept, so you could call it civil war i guess. But it is in fact a battle, and if it spreads, will evolve into a war I suppose. 

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