The Philippine Embassy in Bangkok on Friday cautioned Filipinos in Thailand to avoid wearing red or yellow shirts to avoid being misconstrued as members of the opposing parties.
The government and anti-government supporters took to wearing these particular colors to show their support for the parties.
This development came about as the security situation in Thailand escalates because of the upcoming general elections on February 2.
The Philippine Embassy in Bangkok issued the travel advisory for Filipinos with essential travel plans to Thailand and those residing there.
“Participating and/or showing support in any form to any of the parties is strongly discouraged. For information, the red and yellow colors are closely identified with some of the parties involved,” the advisory said.
The embassy also asked Filipinos to avoid large crowds and demonstrations to ensure their safety as there have been incidents of violence with some fatalities.
It said Bangkok’s international airport (Suvarnabhumi) and Don Mueang Airport for domestic flights remain operational and all modes of public transportation (sky-train, MRT, taxis, and motorbikes) are running as normal.
Those visiting Bangkok for the first time, however, “may experience increased traffic congestion and security measures.”
The advisory added Filipinos should continue to be vigilant and closely monitor developments given the fluidity of the situation because the places to avoid could change periodically.
Anti-government protests in Thailand began in October 2013 following the proposed amnesty bill that would have pardoned Abhisit Veijaiva and Suthep Thaugsuban while facilitating the return of the self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the current Prime Minister’s, Yingluck Shinawatra, brother.
The bill was passed by the Pheu Thai Party-dominated House of Representatives on November 1, and elicited opposition from both the Democrat Party and the pro-government Red Shirt movement.
It was turned down by the Senate but protests, led mainly by former Democrat Thaugsuban, continued and gradually turned towards an anti-government agenda.
In December, all 153 Democrat Party resigned to put more pressure to the government and Yingluck declared the dissolution of the House of Representatives, triggering a general election scheduled on February 2, 2014.
But the anti-government protesters rejected the election. They want an unelected “people’s council” to oversee reforms.
On February 2, Yingluck is expected to receive the mandate of the people once again even amid the protesters’ fears that Thaksin is still behind the running of the second largest economy in Southeast Asia.
So far, Thai’s military has kept their hands off the protests, but political analysts are adamant military intervention can spell disaster especially as they already staged 11 successful coups, the last one in 2006 against Thaksin.
The former prime minister is in a self-imposed exile following his conviction in a corruption case. The protests are primarily aimed against Thaksin’s considerable influence on Thailand’s political fabric that stemmed from the elite’s and the educated middle class’ apprehensions over Thaksin’s power among the rural poor. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON