The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region advised its citizens against traveling to the Philippines because of the ongoing standoff between members of Nur Misuari-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and government forces.
The island has maintained its black travel alert, which cautioned citizens against “all travel” to the Philippines, since August 2010 when a botched hostage-rescue attempt at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park caused the lives of eight Hong Kong tourists.
The travel alert was updated on September 11, which marked the third day of the standoff that started on September 9 (Monday).
“In early September 2013, clashes occurred between militants and the Philippines security forces in southern city of Zamboanga, resulting in casualties. The airport in the city has been closed and a curfew has been put in place from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.,” the advisory said.
Hong Kong is the fifth state to warn its citizens against traveling to the country after the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Under Hong Kong’s three-level Outbound Travel Alert (OTA), black is the highest and indicates a “severe threat.” It advises residence to avoid all kinds of travel.
The other two levels are red (significant threat) and the lowest, amber (signs of threat).
Aside from the Philippines, Hong Kong also imposed a black travel alert on Syria and Egypt. On the other hand, Lebanon is on the red travel alert while amber travel alert is issued on Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan (Fukushima Prefecture), Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkey.
Hong Kong’s OTA covers 85 countries that are usually frequented by Hong Kong tourists. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON