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Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Reports of Increased Security Concerns in the Philippines

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U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines Security Message for U.S. Citizens:  Reports of Increased Security Concerns in the Philippines  
December 23, 2015  
THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES.  PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD.  THANK YOU. 

The U.S. Embassy would like to alert U.S. citizens residing in, or traveling to, the Philippines to recent statements by Philippine security officials regarding an increase in the Terrorist Threat Level to Level III (High) in seven cities and nine provinces across the country due to persistent reports of kidnapping for ransom plots and potential bombings by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Philippine security officials indicated that cities under the increased terrorism alert are Zamboanga City, Marawi, Isabela, Kidapwan, Dipolog, Dapitan, and Cotabato.  All are located in Mindanao.

 

They further indicated that provinces under increased terrorism alert are Sultan Kudarat North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu  (all in Mindanao); Palawan, southern Negros island; and Boracay island (Aklan).

 

Philippine officials in several of the areas have announced increased security measures.

 

The Embassy strongly reiterates its recommendation that U.S. citizens exercise extreme caution when travelling to Mindanao.  For more information on security conditions in Mindanao, please refer to the October 21, 2015 Philippines Travel Warning that is posted on the Department of State’s website.

The Embassy wishes to remind all U.S. citizens to review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.  Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Philippines Country Specific Information. 

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.  

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, at +(63) (2) 301-2000, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(63) (2) 301-2000. 

Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). 

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Paul

 

 

southern Negros island

 

What in hell could be worth destroying there, or in a number of the other areas listed?

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oztony

What in hell could be worth destroying there, or in a number of the other areas listed?

 

I was thinking much the same , Bayawan , Siaton ? nothing there , unless they are including Dumaguete as a possible target because of the high volume of local expats.

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AussieLex

Lots of expats in Dumaguete ... kidnapping for ransom possibilities ...

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AussieLex

Some time ago it was reported in the sunstar that there was an increased presence of two terrorist groups in the Dumaguete general area with a possibility of increased threat to kidnappings and that the government sent some specialised troops into the area,... the PNP also was supposed to have sent one or two anti terrorist specialists there as well .. was maybe 8 or 10 weeks ago that I read that and am relying on memory so take it with a grain of salt ...

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BossHog

 

 

Some time ago it was reported in the sunstar that there was an increased presence of two terrorist groups in the Dumaguete general area with a possibility of increased threat to kidnappings and that the government sent some specialised troops into the area,... the PNP also was supposed to have sent one or two anti terrorist specialists there as well .. was maybe 8 or 10 weeks ago that I read that and am relying on memory so take it with a grain of salt ...

 

Thank you for the submission. This fact did dominate news for awhile before the reporters got tied up covering other news items.

 

While the embassies are always flogging these warnings their 'safe words' should be heeded by all.

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Paul

Lots of expats in Dumaguete ... kidnapping for ransom possibilities ...

 

Tell 'em not to kidnap any of the guys at McDonald's. If they do, they will have to provide 'em with that shitty coffee the entire time they are held hostage.

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bahalina buong

Tell 'em not to kidnap any of the guys at McDonald's. If they do, they will have to provide 'em with that shitty coffee the entire time they are held hostage.

LOL....not even muslim extremists are stupid enough to attack Spec Ops HQ.  

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Tullioz
The BIFF has definitely become more active in central Mindanao in recent days. While this article is not related to the threat to foreigners, it is clear that their intentions are to continue to cause problems in the region.  

 

Death toll from BIFF Christmas Eve attacks rises to 13

 

COTABATO CITY – The death toll in attack carried out by outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Christmas Eve rose to 13 – nine civilians and four rebels – officials on Friday said.

 

After killing seven civilians in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces on Thursday dawn, the BIFF attacked a Catholic chapel in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato and gunned down a village councilman at about 9 p.m.

 

Another dead farmer was found in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

 

 

Led by BIFF Commander Abonawas Alamada, the armed men attacked the house of Robert Latosa, village councilman of Barangay Simsiman, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato by firing rocket propelled grenades, killing him on the spot.

 

Two BIFF groups also simultaneously attacked a 38th Infantry Battalion detachment by firing rifle grenades and a Catholic chapel where a midnight Mass was on going, sending Mass goers scampering for safety. Nobody was hurt in the chapel attack.

 

The attacks were over in five minutes, civilians in Barangay Simsiman said.

 

Almost at the same time, another band of BIFF harassed a detachment of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao.  The Army retaliated by firing rocket rifle grenades, forcing the bandits to flee. Nobody was hurt.

 

Instead of celebrating Christmas in their respective detachments, soldiers of the 33rdInfantry Battalion spent their Christmas Eve in the battlefield in the mountains of Abdullah Sangki and Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

 

Soldiers and policemen admitted they had to hurdle threats of booby traps left by BIFF in and around the areas where five civilian farmers were killed.

 

Lt. Colonel Ricky Bunayog, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, said another farmer was found dead in the village of Paitan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Maguindanao on Christmas Day or about 10 hours after the BIFF launched the offensive.

 

“One of their field commanders was killed that is why they were so brutal on civilians,” Bunayog said.

 

“We have recovered four improvised bombs in the area.

 

Relatives of the slain farmers said those who went to spray chemicals to the farmlands in Barangay Kauran were hired farmers who wanted to earn money for the “Noche Buena.”  They would have been paid after the job so they have money to buy for Christmas Eve dinner,” he said.

 

“Now they are all gone, and we celebrate Christmas here at the funeral parlor,” Reme Demo, a relative told reporters in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat.  He said the fatalities were all farmers and not CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) as claimed by the BIFF.

 

“They were all civilians, they were not armed,” Demo stressed.

 

Earlier, Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, admitted to the atrocities but stressed they were only after para-military and soldiers in the areas where they carried out the attacks.

 

“We target the armed CAFGU and soldiers; we spare civilians,” Mama said. When told there were civilian casualties, Mama said, they were among those considered as “collateral damage.”

 

Salome Alsgar, wife of Gerard Alsgar who was killed by attackers in the village of Paitan, said the BIFF assured her husband will not be harmed.

 

Alsgar and his son were taken hostage by the BIFF and used as “human shields.”

 

“They do not want us to leave, nine of us, my husband and four other farmers and my 5-year-old son,” she said.  “The soldiers are running after us, if they stop, you can go,” she quoted the BIFF as telling her.

 

She and her son then were set free and allowed to walk for about five minutes then she heard a series of gun burst.

 

“They killed my husband and his companions,” she said.

 

Bunayog said the number of BIFF was “surprisingly big” with about 300 men attacking a remote village and “hitting anyone seen in their escape route.”

 

Four BIFF dead bodies and four firearms were recovered by soldiers during clearing operations.

 

Mama owned up all the three incidents and vowed to launch similar attacks in the future because “we want to establish an Islamic State.”

 

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Pman

Meanwhile the usa is importing more terrorists...

 

Maybe still safer here.

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Tullioz
Davao put under ‘double red alert’

 

Davao City has been put under “double red alert” after authorities verified reports of possible security threats in the area during the holiday season.

 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Davao deployed personnel in different areas of the city, especially crowded places such as churches, parks, markets, bus terminals, airports, and public squares.

 

PNP Davao spokesperson C/Insp. Milgrace Driz told ABS-CBN News that the terror threats to the city was well-verified thus the need to beef up security, as well as the conduct of surveillance operations.

 

Plainclothes personnel were also deployed, in addition to uniformed policemen.

 

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were also assigned to ensure the security of the city.

 

The heightened alert level in Davao comes after a series of attacks were carried out bombing the transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in different locations in Mindanao.

 

Most recently, lawless elements bombed the NGCP tower in Ladia, Sultan Kudarat. Earlier, power lines in North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur were also targeted.

 

The national grid operator had warned that the series of attacks to the power transmitters could possibly cut the electric supply in Mindanao and cause interruptions over the Christmas holidays.

 

More than 10 separate bombing incidents have been reported across Mindanao in this year alone, with some towers being attacked more than once. While NGCP personnel performed power restoration immediately after the attacks, they have also requested assistance from both local and national security forces to protect their transmitters.

 

At least one of the bombings have been linked to the so-called Al-Khobar extortion group which is believed to have damaged two towers in North Cotabato.

 

 


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cvgtpc1

The BIFF has definitely become more active in central Mindanao in recent days. While this article is not related to the threat to foreigners, it is clear that their intentions are to continue to cause problems in the region.

 

Death toll from BIFF Christmas Eve attacks rises to 13

 

COTABATO CITY – The death toll in attack carried out by outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Christmas Eve rose to 13 – nine civilians and four rebels – officials on Friday said.

 

After killing seven civilians in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces on Thursday dawn, the BIFF attacked a Catholic chapel in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato and gunned down a village councilman at about 9 p.m.

 

Another dead farmer was found in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

 

 

Led by BIFF Commander Abonawas Alamada, the armed men attacked the house of Robert Latosa, village councilman of Barangay Simsiman, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato by firing rocket propelled grenades, killing him on the spot.

 

Two BIFF groups also simultaneously attacked a 38th Infantry Battalion detachment by firing rifle grenades and a Catholic chapel where a midnight Mass was on going, sending Mass goers scampering for safety. Nobody was hurt in the chapel attack.

 

The attacks were over in five minutes, civilians in Barangay Simsiman said.

 

Almost at the same time, another band of BIFF harassed a detachment of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao. The Army retaliated by firing rocket rifle grenades, forcing the bandits to flee. Nobody was hurt.

 

Instead of celebrating Christmas in their respective detachments, soldiers of the 33rdInfantry Battalion spent their Christmas Eve in the battlefield in the mountains of Abdullah Sangki and Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

 

Soldiers and policemen admitted they had to hurdle threats of booby traps left by BIFF in and around the areas where five civilian farmers were killed.

 

Lt. Colonel Ricky Bunayog, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, said another farmer was found dead in the village of Paitan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Maguindanao on Christmas Day or about 10 hours after the BIFF launched the offensive.

 

“One of their field commanders was killed that is why they were so brutal on civilians,” Bunayog said.

 

“We have recovered four improvised bombs in the area.

 

Relatives of the slain farmers said those who went to spray chemicals to the farmlands in Barangay Kauran were hired farmers who wanted to earn money for the “Noche Buena.” They would have been paid after the job so they have money to buy for Christmas Eve dinner,” he said.

 

“Now they are all gone, and we celebrate Christmas here at the funeral parlor,” Reme Demo, a relative told reporters in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. He said the fatalities were all farmers and not CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) as claimed by the BIFF.

 

“They were all civilians, they were not armed,” Demo stressed.

 

Earlier, Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, admitted to the atrocities but stressed they were only after para-military and soldiers in the areas where they carried out the attacks.

 

“We target the armed CAFGU and soldiers; we spare civilians,” Mama said. When told there were civilian casualties, Mama said, they were among those considered as “collateral damage.”

 

Salome Alsgar, wife of Gerard Alsgar who was killed by attackers in the village of Paitan, said the BIFF assured her husband will not be harmed.

 

Alsgar and his son were taken hostage by the BIFF and used as “human shields.”

 

“They do not want us to leave, nine of us, my husband and four other farmers and my 5-year-old son,” she said. “The soldiers are running after us, if they stop, you can go,” she quoted the BIFF as telling her.

 

She and her son then were set free and allowed to walk for about five minutes then she heard a series of gun burst.

 

“They killed my husband and his companions,” she said.

 

Bunayog said the number of BIFF was “surprisingly big” with about 300 men attacking a remote village and “hitting anyone seen in their escape route.”

 

Four BIFF dead bodies and four firearms were recovered by soldiers during clearing operations.

 

Mama owned up all the three incidents and vowed to launch similar attacks in the future because “we want to establish an Islamic State.”

 

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/750161/death-toll-from-biff-christmas-eve-attack-rises-to-13#ixzz3vOxUTYlc

Hopefully these Christmas attacks are returned in kind next Ramadan.

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bahalina buong

Now Davao is under alert?  That's like the safest city in the whole universe!  We were planning a visit for New Years just to avoid the fireworks....darn.  Hopefully if the bad guys attack they will be disguised as low-level drug dealers, dishonest taxi drivers or (gasp!) smokers...Duterte would take care of them, once and for all.   :thumbsup:   

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