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US Government travel warning for the Philippines

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[b]The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, and urges extreme caution if traveling there. Sporadic violence throughout the Philippines is also possible before and after the May 10 national and local elections and the June 30 inaugurations. This replaces the Travel Warning dated September 17, 2009, to reflect continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities[/b]

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

What nonsense. This warning is wrong on many fronts.

First there has not been a foreigner killed in the PI by rebel factions in over 8 years. We have to go back to mr Black who was a Moslem and there was lots of evidence that he knew about the kidnapping before he was kidnapped. We have those people kidnapped from a beach resort in Malaysia, but of course that is... Malaysia.

LOTS of foreigners killed in Luzon by criminals and politicians. I had a friend killed in Moalboal (CEBU) by the Mayor about 10 years back.

And third... the real danger in living in the PI is being killed or crippled on the roadways. That threat is not even mentioned. I have had 4 of my friends killed while driving, every case was the fault of the Filipino. Just 4 months ago an acquaintance of mine had his wife killed when a truck passed on a bridge and he rammed the abutment. But of course that has nothing to do with Mindanao either. Those are the driving habits here.

Forth, It assumes, falsely, that rebel groups would think it is a good idea to Kidnap a foreigner at all. To what end? I have met many Abu Sayyaf, MINLF, MNLF, organizers, know the local NPA guys on a first name basis. I was able to have an extended chat with Ka Oris (district leader) in my home several years ago. He was typical of rebel leaders. He tells me that he never supports plans to gain funding by harassing foreigners as, they rarely pay, it becomes an international issue, and it detracts from his main problem, organizing.

CRIME is not even mentioned. Every city has criminal gangs who kill each other almost daily. Pickpockets! Swindlers! When I was living in CEBU 5 men were killed within a half a mile of my house in ONE night! 2 by stray bullets.

Kidnap for ransom has 4 BIG problems before it is feasible and grabbing the guy is the easiest. He must be sure that the foreigner has enough money to justify the trouble. He must have somebody who can get to that foreigner's money before the kidnapped guy can even pay at all. Then we have the problem of passing the money when the police are watching so you need a corrupt cop. You might think this is easy in the PI, but although finding a corrupt cop might be easy, finding one that will not cut you (kidnappers) out of the deal shortens the list considerably.

Mindanao has a bad name and it is richly undeserved. I have lived there in various places for the last 16 years or so. I have lived in places where people tell you "never go there", like Dinas, Zambonga Del Sur. I have lived in communities that were at least 80% Moslem and found them just as kind, welcoming and safe as any christian communities I ever visited.

I am angered that my government is so stupid. I am saddened that a system for getting out viable threats was used to jump on a hate Mindanao bandwagon. This "warning" undermines every warning, as if this one is just nonsense, why should I not assume that all are?

Abu Farsi

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