U.S. Embassy Warning – Davao Bombing

I just received this notice courtesy of the U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines

US Embassy, Manila
US Embassy, Manila

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Davao Bombing
September 3, 2016


An explosive device was detonated in a crowded market in Davao, Philippines on the evening of September 2, 2016. Media reports suggest at least 14 are dead and 60 injured. An investigation into the explosion is ongoing. A State of Lawlessness has been declared by the Philippine government and elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been placed on high alert. The Embassy continues to monitor these events as they develop.

The Embassy has temporarily suspended all official travel to Mindanao. While we have no information that indicates there is a direct threat to U.S. citizens or interests in the Philippines, the Embassy encourages all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and employ sound personal security measures as you go about your day. The Embassy will continue to monitor the current state of affairs in the Philippines and will release additional messages as needed.

The Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the most recent Department of State Worldwide Caution, dated March 3, 2016, which indicates there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against United States citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines. You may also wish to review the information in the most recent Philippines Travel Warning. Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, mass transportation systems – including airlines, and other public venues where large crowds gather. Crowded nightclubs, shopping malls, buses and popular restaurants have also been targets. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines.

The Embassy also notes that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been circulating letters in some communities, to include residential villages, outlining plans to search homes as part of the Philippine government’s ongoing anti-drug campaign. Local PNP leadership has informed the Embassy that the village sweeps are intended for the sole purpose of distributing information pamphlets so that residents know who to contact to report crimes or suspicious behavior. After these materials are distributed, barangay and PNP officials will conduct “knock and plead” operations only at those homes suspected of involvement in illegal drug operations.

My Thoughts On This

While president Duterte has declared a State of Lawlessness, the move is designed to ensure that the president has the powers to attack these threats head on. It basically provides him with an Executive Privilege to mobilize and place the PNP and AFP on high alert, which places military command ahead of civilian command of forces. This does not eliminate public or civil rights nor does it suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus.  It also further allow him to take the additional step in the declaration of Martial Law if necessary. May expats that live here see this as s necessary progression on multiple fronts: the war on terrorism and the corruption front, and is welcomed both by the civilian sector and the expat community. Yesterday, we passed through a checkpoint heading to the Calbayog City Fair last night that was manned by at least 15 PNP personnel. Because we were in a vehicle with tinted windows, we were stopped for a visual inspection. Once they seen inside our vehicle and that it was a was a family, we were politely waved on. The PNP were very polite, and professional and actually made us feel safe to know that public safety was a real concern. Generally speaking, life here at home has not been affected. While there may be some inconveniences traveling around the Philippines (buses, ferries, planes), for the most part, things seem perfectly normal.

As foreigners though, we should always be on alert. I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those victims and the grieving families who lost loved ones in the Davao bombing.”

8 thoughts on “U.S. Embassy Warning – Davao Bombing

  1. We arrived at our home in sorsogon a little over a week ago. Been busy getting things in order and taking care of my ACR card. We did bring our dog she is slowly adjusting. Hopefully we will get over to Samar eventually for a visit.

  2. Thinking back, I estimate that I have seen policemen in the act of accepting bribes at least 100 times. Mostly it was free meals or beer at clubs, checkpoints taking cash or food, traffic cops pocketing fines, or a fee schedule paid for each overload passenger at jeepney stop or money to show up hoping to get them to investigate crime. I have been asked for bribes from the mayor, his assessor, a judge, a fiscal (prosecutor) and many immigration officers.
    It has left me with the feeling that nothing is done without some hidden agenda.
    I for sure do not want any group of policemen entering my home. In 1993 I had a friend who’s hotel was entered by 2 policemen and had drugs planted inside, they offered to walk out for P20,000. He paid, then left the Philippines 3 days later, never to return. For a long time in the 90s there was a web site of Germans who had been charged with drug dealing in Palawan, and all had been allowed to escape from jail for hundreds of thousands of dollars each, more than 30 individuals. The police chief was fined but he did not lose his job. The nephew of my closest Filipino friend got hired as a policeman after paying the normal bribe of 3 months wages in advance, then he was asked to be the bag man collecting bribes from a whore house, he refused. 8 days later he was shot in the back and killed while riding his motorcycle in city traffic.
    I am not sure why the embassy issues these warnings, but this one like so many others I have seen is so vague there is simply no reasonable action anybody can take to implement greater safety. Don’t go to malls, bars, markets, or use public transportation… REALLY? Be cautious? Does that mean look for guys with a sign on their back saying “I am the terrorist you should be watching out for”, how else would you know one? Does this imply that those 70 or so injured in the attack this document references, could have avoided injury if they too had been careful? That the police who’s job it is to make you safe, could have prevented this attack?
    The topic is poorly selected as most Americans I know get into a lot more trouble from fake medicines, bad water, amoral lawyers, petty and not so petty theft and traffic accidents. So the motivation for issuing this warning perhaps is not helping as many Americans abroad as a different warning might.
    Why then issue a warning at all? I speculate that this warning is the logical result of a PNP or AFP “intelligence report” shared with embassy staff. They get this report and think “Geese, if we remain silent and somebody gets hurt, we got a message warning us, it could make us look bad”.

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