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Nothing new in UK travel advisory on Mindanao: DND

MANILA -- There is nothing new in the United Kingdom's advisory, which warned its nationals against traveling to Mindanao.

This was disclosed by Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong in a statement forwarded to reporters Wednesday.

"This is nothing new. The government of the UK regularly issues security advisories to its subjects who are overseas. It is the mandate and responsibility of every government in the world to remind its citizens to take precautions when traveling to countries that have a presence of bandits and terrorists, whether their activities or numbers are significant or not," he added.

This was also shared by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, noting that such an advisory is a default warning.

"The British advisory is an automatic & default warning of governments to their nationals like we also do when these things happen in other countries. It is normal and ordinary. We hear about these advisories all the time," he added.

Earlier, UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised its citizens against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.

The FCO also advised against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.

"Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks anytime and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship. You should remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities," the UK FCO added.

London issued the travel advisory, shortly after the bomb attack in Cotabato City, which killed two persons and wounded 34 others last Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced that the situation in Cotabato City has now normalized and that its forces are now focusing on preventing a repeat of the incident.

“As far as the PNP is concerned, everything went back to normal in Cotabato City. And the security services, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP are on top of the situation,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno Durana said in a separate statement. (with report from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

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