Palawan on Alert for Possible Kidnapping Threat

Terrorist group Abu Sayyef

Because personal safety is always at the top of the list of concerns while living in the Philippines, I thought I might share the following information about a “credible kidnapping threat,” and one which might specifically target foreigners or the wealthy. The below information was obtained just recently via a local news network in the Philippines and is presented as follows:

“The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) said Palawan has again tightened its security alert after getting hold of a “credible kidnapping threat” from a remnant unit of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu province.

Provincial Legal Officer and PPOC member, Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, said Saturday that Palawan has again heightened its security posturing in “all areas since the start of the rainy season” due to believable military report of possible kidnapping by the ASG.

He said they are issuing the alert to the LGUs on the belief that the kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group is already trying to make its way to the Palawan area of responsibility (AOR).

“Wherever you go, there is threat. It’s not only in the province that this is happening. Like other places in the country, our province is also threatened by remnants of this extremist group. Only this time, we believe the threat is credible enough so we alerted all our mayors and tourism operators, including barangay officials to be careful, be aware of their surroundings, and be vigilant,” Atty. Matta said.

Any suspicious personality and activity, he said, should be reported immediately to the Western Command (Wescom), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP) and its police maritime group, Rescue 165, and other security operations unit.

Atty. Matta added Palawan’s safety and security does not only concern the military and the police, but also the awareness and cautiousness of the public in the communities.

“Governor Jose Alvarez and I agree that the best weapon against terrorism threat is public awareness and vigilance to protect communities as a whole. What business we may lose in making this public is better than them being able to really come in and do something more serious,” he stated.

He said the heightened alert should put Palaweños at ease that all measures of security are being undertaken by the provincial government in close cooperation with the military and the police to sustain peace and order even in far-flung communities.”

Palawan… still on my bucket list!

While some areas of the Philippines might be regularly more risky for travel that other areas (specifically, some parts of Mindanao), we as foreigners, we must all remain diligent and aware of our surroundings at all times. We must also remember that while the threat of kidnapping from extremist groups is minimal (yet real), the real threat to ourselves, is actually ourselves.  What I mean by this is that a more real and present danger exists through our everyday actions when we, as foreigners, become involved in politics, land issues, public arguments, and public humiliation.  The best advice we can all provide to one another in order to carry on with a relaxing and peaceful existance in the Philippines is to keep our eyes and ears open, and our opinions to ourselves.

If you really feel the need to argue with someone, there are plenty of groups on facebook that will accomodate you. At least you will be off the streets! lol

Here is the actual U.S. Embassy Security Alert associated with this threat issued on Aug 14, 2018:

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