The British government updated its travel advisory in the Philippines, warning its citizens on the “heightened threat of terrorist attack throughout the country.”
In the travel advisory, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warned its citizens against “all travel” to southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of ongoing terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.
According to the FCO, terrorist groups continue “to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country.”
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners like airports, shopping malls, public transport and places of worship,” it added.
The advisory enumerated several terrorist groups working in the country such as the New People’s Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Jemaah Islamiyah and other associated groups.
Although there is “hope” that the 2013 peace framework peace agreement would bring the 40-year insurgency in to south to an end, “extreme elements within the two main insurgent groups, the Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF] and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF], continue to pose a security threat.”
“A splinter group of the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters [BIFF], has been responsible for a number of attacks on the Philippine military and security services over the last year.”
The advisory also warned against kidnapping.
“The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking,” the FCO said.