Security Message for U.S. Citizens


 

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, and to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the island of Mindanao, due to continued terrorist threats, insurgent activities, and kidnappings. This replaces the Travel Warning dated April 21, 2016. 

 

Terrorist and insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago continue to kidnap foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and the southern Sulu Sea area. This area stretches from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao.

 

Separatist and terrorist groups continue to carry out attacks and kidnappings against civilians, foreigners, political leaders, and Philippine security forces in Mindanao. Since January 2016, at least 13 separate kidnappings of foreigners have been reported across Mindanao. In western Mindanao, terrorist, insurgent, and criminal gangs regularly conduct kidnappings for ransom. In central Mindanao, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remain active in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence.

 

In September 2016, a terrorist group conducted a bombing in Davao City, killing 15 and wounding 69 people. Following the attack, the Philippine government declared a "State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao." There have been no reports of U.S. citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality; however, general threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern.

 

U.S. government personnel are required to obtain special authorization from Embassy security officials before traveling to Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

 

For further information:

 

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Philippines Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, at +(63) (2) 301-2000, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(63) (2) 301-2000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines

Security Message for U.S. Citizens:  

Holiday Security Guidance

December 1, 2016

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES.  PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD.  THANK YOU.

The Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens to take preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines. The holiday season is a prime time for criminal activity.

Remember, while victims can often ‎simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time, they can also be targeted because they appear to be wealthy. In years past there have been incidents of robbery, pick-pocketing, property thefts from vehicles, and burglaries in unoccupied residences.  The Embassy is issuing the following guidance that can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of such criminal activity.

CRIMINAL ACTIVITY:

  • Maintain a low profile and don’t bring undue attention to yourself. Avoid displaying large amounts of gold or jewelry.
  • Always carry some type of identification (ID).
  • Don’t carry around large amounts of cash. Take with you only what you will require for the moment and keep it in the front pocket of your clothing whenever possible. Purse snatching is common.
  • Avoid resisting an armed criminal attempting to take your valuables‎. A good rule of thumb:  Don’t take more with you than you are willing to lose. Possessions can be replaced, people cannot.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Crime can occur anywhere and at any time. 
  • When possible, avoid going out at night alone. There is always safety in numbers. 
  • Avoid walking in dark or isolated areas. 
  • Know where you are going and have your route pre-planned.
  • Exercise caution when at public venues that have added pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic during the holidays (e.g., malls, churches, holiday concerts, etc.) as they can be prime targets of crime or terrorism. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings and have multiple points of egress.
  • If you notice suspicious individuals approaching you, attempt to cross the street to avoid them.  In the event they continue to follow or harass you, walk to the nearest establishment (shopping mall, hotel, restaurant, etc.) and seek assistance from the security guard or door escort. This includes pickpocket gangs, which are common and often appear to be homeless and begin by demanding money. They will sometimes aggressively follow victims until they eventually swarm around the victim to surreptitiously grab personal items such as wallets and cell phones.
  • Be aware that jeepneys, buses, and the Light Rail Transport (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems are prime venues for thieves.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.

VEHICLE SECURITY:

  • Drive defensively at all times.
  • ALWAYS drive with the windows rolled up and the doors locked.
  • DO NOT park in deserted or isolated areas. At night, park in well-lighted areas. Take advantage of guarded and paid parking lots with private security patrols.
  • Do not leave personal items openly displayed in your vehicle. Smash-and-grab incidents are common when victims leave cell phones, backpacks, laptop bags, purses, and other potentially valuable items in plain view.
  • Always maintain copies of your driver’s license and vehicle registration in your vehicle. Avoid surrendering the original document to police.
  • Remember that traffic leading up to Christmas progressively worsens. Give yourself more time traveling between locations to help minimize incidents of road rage and traffic accidents.

RESIDENTIAL SECURITY:

  • Control the keys to your residence.
  • Make sure that ALL doors and windows are secured before going to sleep or before departing your residence.
  • Always keep the doors to your residence locked (day and night), even when at home.
  • DO NOT open your door to anyone until you have satisfactorily identified the visitor. This is very important for children and domestic help to understand.
  • Make sure that all repairmen are properly identified. Always inform your household staff if you are expecting any visitors to the house while you are away. You or your domestic staff should keep any workers/contractors under observation. Be wary of any unscheduled visitors. If you are not expecting the visitors, feel free to turn them away.
  • DO NOT leave gifts, valuables, or personally sensitive documents in close proximity to windows or glass doors. Thieves can quickly smash a window and grab items within reach. Always keep such items locked in a personal safe or filing cabinet with a strong lock.
  • When planning a trip away from your residence during the evening, make certain to leave on some lights. For extended absences from your residence, consider using a timer to control lights at the residence, turning them on and off at alternating times of the morning and evening. Also consider leaving a radio turned on to give the impression that someone is at home at all times.
  • If you are home during a burglary attempt DO NOT confront the perpetrators  they may be armed. Instead, either flee or lock yourself in a secure room and call the police.
  • If your residence has an alarm, make sure you use it.

SUSPICIOUS ITEMS:

  • If you see a suspicious object or package, do not go near it or attempt to touch it. Immediately notify an appropriate official, such as a police officer or building guard, and then depart the premises.
  • If you are in the vicinity when such an incident occurs, leave the area immediately. Do not approach the scene of a suspicious item such as a suspected explosive device.

 

 


U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines

 

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens:  Protests in Manila Tomorrow

November 30, 2016

 

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES.  PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD.  THANK YOU.

 

The U.S. Embassy in Manila has been informed of a demonstration scheduled to take place tomorrow, Wednesday, November 30, 2016. The demonstrators are expecting to assemble at Plaza Lawton/Liwasang Bonifacio (in the vicinity of Quiapo) at approximately 8:00 AM and march to the U.S. Embassy for a program from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, then proceed to the People’s Power Monument, near Camp Aguinaldo to continue the demonstration expected to last until 5:00 PM. These times are approximations and are likely to change.

 

Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Manila and the Consular Agency in Cebu will be closed this Wednesday, November 30, 2016, in honor of the Bonifacio Day Holiday.

 

 

U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines

Message for U.S. Citizens:  Consular Agency in Cebu Closed December 5-9, 2016

 

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION THROUGH THE EMBASSY WARDEN SYSTEM AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO AMERICAN CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES. PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD. 

 

The U.S. Consular Agency office in Cebu will be closed to the public from December 5 through December 9, 2016. The office will resume normal operating hours on December 12, 2016.  

 

For emergency services December 5 through December 9, please contact American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy in Manila by phone at +(63) (2) 301-2000 or by email at .

 

Please note that both the Consular Agency in Cebu and the U.S. Embassy in Manila will be closed this Thursday, November 24, in honor of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

 

 

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For further information:

See the State Department's Travel Website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Philippines Country Specific Information.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, at +(63) (2) 301-2000, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The after-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(63) (2) 301-2000.

Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).