US Warns Of New Terror Threats In Philippines

February 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 14, 2008) – The United States warned its citizens Thursday not to travel to the Philippines because of possible threats of terrorism.

The US State Department said citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including those due to terrorism.
“While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern. Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago,” it said.
Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya, and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front, have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries and property damage.
The State Department also cited the January 3, 2008 bombing of a disco pub in the southern Filipino city of Cotabato that killed one and injured eight others. It said the central and western areas of Mindanao have also experienced bombings targeting bus terminals and public buildings.
“US Government employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. When traveling in Mindanao, US official travelers attempt to lower their profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution. Some foreigners who reside in or visit western and central Mindanao hire their own security,” the State Department said.
It said communist insurgents, the New People’s Army could also threaten US citizens engaged in business or property management activities, and it often demands so-called “revolutionary taxes.”
Filipino security forces on Thursday were on high alert after the discovery of an alleged plot by the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya to kill President Gloria Arroyo. The Philippine military previously said the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya militants were on the run after suffering defeats in government offensive in the south.
“There is a threat to assassinate the President,” said Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.
Esperon’s announcement came a day before Arroyo’s political opponents and militant groups were to hold a huge rally calling for her resignation over corruption allegations.
The threats forced Arroyo to cancel a trip to Baguio City on Saturday where she would speak at the Philippine Military Academy homecoming. But she was photographed singing with Claire dela Fuente and Richard Carpenter at a Valentine’s Day luncheon Thursday at the Presidential Palace in Manila.
Rodolfo Lozada Jr, a witness in a Senate corruption inquiry, has implicated the President’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo and another political ally, former elections chief Benjamin Abalos Sr, to the failed national broadband deal which he claimed was overpriced by as much as $130 million. Both Arroyo and Abalos’ families strongly denied the allegations.
Arroyo’s government has been rocked by corruption scandals and the President is hounded with accusations that she cheated in the elections to keep herself and allies in power against the popular Fernando Poe Jr., a movie actor, who died while campaigning.
Poe’s supporters and opposition politicians and civil groups accused Arroyo of electoral fraud in 2004 after an alleged military wiretapped conversation between her and an election commissioner that linked them to cheating surfaced.
Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives are also pushing to amend the Constitution to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary or federalism and eventually prolong her into power beyond 2010.
Under the presidential form of government, Arroyo, who deposed President Joseph Estrada in a people power revolution in 2001, is allowed only one six-year term.
In the charter change proposal suggested by her political allies who dominate Congress, she can be elected as prime minister should Congress approve a proposal to dissolve the Senate and change the system of government to parliamentary. (Mindanao Examiner)

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