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September 2006 Vol. 21, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How Safe Are the Philippines?

from the September, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Ever since the al-Qaeda affiliated Abu Sayyaf Group kidnapped Americans and other foreign nationals from a dive resort in Sipadan in April 2000, there has been heightened awareness of the dangers in traveling to the Philippines.

Landing in Manila just a couple of weeks after a coup attempt last March, I saw nothing that concerned me as our bus wound through the city streets on our way to the coast. On all three islands I visited (Luzon, Mindoro and Negros), the Filipinos I met were universally open, friendly and hospitable. However, the U.S. State Department urges Americans to take vigilant personal security precautions, and to register with the U.S. Embassy.

U.S., U.K. and Australian officials advise against all travel to central, southern and western Mindanao, and the Sulu archipelago. This area lies about 180 miles south of Dumaguete. However, the British foreign office points out that there is a threat of kidnaping of foreign tourists throughout the Philippines.

For the latest security information, check the State Department’s Internet web site (travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_2190.html) or call 1-888-407-4747 in North America.

After taking all the precautions into consideration, I’d have no concerns about returning to Puerto Galera or Dumaguete. The risks of diving are a thousandfold greater than the risk of being caught up in some terrorist activity anywhere.

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