The beautiful island of Palawan has been inviting visitors with its crystal seas and excellent diving for years. However, travellers are being warned of a ‘credible kidnapping threat’ that may target foreigners and expats, as well as locals.

From the Canadian Government’s Travel Advice website

Authorities in Palawan are advising the public of a credible kidnapping threat on the island. Foreigners may be targeted. If you are on the island:

  • be vigilant at all times
  • take extra security precautions
  • speak to staff at your hotel about the security measures in place
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • monitor local news reports

Be alert to the danger of kidnap-for-ransom. Since late 2015, cases of kidnapping involving foreigners have become more frequent. Victims have been subjected to extremely harsh treatment for prolonged periods, and there has been an increase in the number of foreigners executed by their captors. The threat is particularly high in the Mindanao Region and surrounding areas (see Advisory), but could also occur in locations outside the region, especially in coastal areas. Boaters in waters around Mindanao and in the Sulu Sea, as well as visitors to southern Palawan Island, southern Negros Island or Siquijor Island, may also face an elevated threat of kidnapping.

If you are travelling to these areas, maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times, report any suspicious behaviour to security forces, follow the instructions of local authorities and ensure that your hotel or resort has adequate security measures in place.

from Country Advice and Advisories updated in the last 24 hours, which can be found at: http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/philippines


From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Kidnapping could occur anywhere. There’s been an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals since late 2015, with a number of new cases involving terrorist groups. Some hostages, including foreign nationals, have been murdered. It’s likely that terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the region.

This threat extends throughout the Philippines, both on land and at sea, but is particularly acute in the southern Philippines. This includes Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, Palawan and central Visayas region, including Siquijor and Dumaguete, and extends to coastal resorts, dive sites, and offshore areas in the nearby waters of the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea.

Foreigners have been targeted in rural, urban and coastal areas, on private boats, in marinas and resorts. The threat of kidnapping isn’t confined to terrorist strongholds, and kidnaps may be opportunistic. Kidnap groups have sought to expand their reach including by working with affiliates to abduct foreign nationals from one area of the Philippines before transporting the victims to another.

The local authorities in Palawan have recently warned the public of a heightened risk from kidnapping. If in the area, you should follow the advice of local security and remain vigilant at all times.

In May 2017, the Philippines authorities reported that they had received unsubstantiated but credible information that the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf may be about to conduct kidnaps in the Sulu Sea, including around the island of the Sulu archipelago (Philippines) and the seas/islands off the east coast of Sabah (Malaysia). Any vessels sailing in the area could be targeted. You should carefully consider travel plans and be especially vigilant at this time.

On 9 May 2017, the US Embassy in Manila advised its citizens it had received “credible information that terrorist groups may be planning to conduct kidnapping operations targeting foreign national in the areas of Palawan Province, Philippines, to include Puerto Princesa City, and the areas surrounding Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park”. You should carefully consider travel plans, and be especially vigilant in these areas.

On 11 and 12 April 2017, Philippine authorities clashed with heavily armed individuals in Inabanga, Bohol, resulting in fatalities. This was in response to information that a group was planning to conduct kidnappings in the area.

Commercial shipping companies have been advised to adopt heightened vigilance when navigating the Sulu and Celebes Seas. Most maritime incidents occur in the Sulu Sea in the area between Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, Palawan and Sabah (Malaysia). The Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) advise all ships to re-route from the area where possible.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/philippines

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