Philippines: Emerging Terrorism Hotspot

We live in Guimaras. A generally peaceful island province in the Western Visayas region. Terrorism?  Not a major concern for the Mayberry RFD of the Philippines.

Keep your head on a swivel

First of all, though, I still practice my “due diligence” everywhere I go.  Therefore, I keep my head on a swivel, always looking around, even if we are only out buying some pan de sal. Finally, being complacent can get you killed anywhere you live. Situation awareness can save your life.

Philippines makes Top Ten of Terrorism

However, the Philippines is now ranked 10th in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI). The Philippines finished in 12th place in 2017. The Institute for Economics and Peace think tank issued the report. The Institute also remarked that the Philippines is an emerging terrorism hotspot.

In an article gleaned from ABS CBN NEWS, the GTI study reported that the Philippines experienced its highest number of deaths related to terrorist incidents in more than a decade.

The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia in the top 10, which was topped by Iraq.

Other countries in the top 10 are Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, and Egypt.

Highest Number of Deaths Since 2002

The GTI report listed 326 people killed in the Philippines due to terrorist incidents last year, the highest number of deaths in the country since 2002.

It was also rated 8th among countries with the highest increases in terrorism deaths worldwide.

The report said the main driver of terrorist activity in countries like the Philippines was “exacerbated tensions between splinter terror groups and national governments.”

Among the worst attacks listed by the index was the siege of Marawi City by the ISIS-Maute Group in 2017, which led to a 5-month ground war with government forces. With 27 killed in the city, Marawi had the most terrorism deaths in the country in 2017.

However, the GTI listed the communist New People’s Army as the main group behind 113 or 35 percent of those killed in terrorist incidents, followed by deaths from uncredited attacks and deaths claimed by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The report added that while no single terrorist incident in the country in 2017 killed more than 10 people, over 170 areas in Mindanao remains under martial law, which Duterte declared when the Marawi conflict erupted in May 2017. Congress recently approved his request to extend military rule in the region.

The Official Response

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said reports like the GTI are among reasons why peace and order remain a “primordial concern” of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Terrorism knows no time, geography or circumstances. No matter how prepared a country or its government is, damage will inevitably be incurred if terrorism befalls a locality within its jurisdiction,” Panelo said. 

While reports like this probably don’t help sales of my best-selling guide, “The Philippines Expat Advisor,” our goal is always to present the good, the bad and the ugly side of the Philippines.

Use common sense, be aware of your surroundings and stay out of trouble spots that the United States State Dept. issues warning about.

Here’s the latest security alert issued from the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines issued on Dec. 21, 2018:

Location:  Throughout the Philippines

Event:  The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to exercise caution while traveling and residing in the Philippines.  The holiday season is a prime time for criminal and terrorist activity.  While victims can oftentimes ‎simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time, they can also be targeted because of a perception of affluence.  In years past, there have been incidents of robbery, pick-pocketing, thefts of property from vehicles, and unoccupied residences being burglarized.  Any public event that draws holiday crowds can be a target for terrorist groups seeking publicity for their cause.

Actions to Take:

  • Keep a low profile.

  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive jewelry or watches.

  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists and/or Westerners.

  • Avoid crowds.

  • Avoid walking in dark or isolated areas.

  • Always carry some type of identification.

  • Be aware of your surroundings.

  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.

  • Always drive with your windows rolled up and the doors locked.

  • Park in well-lighted areas.  Do not leave personal items openly displayed in your vehicle.

  • Always keep the doors to your residence locked, even when at home.

Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Manila, Philippines, August 14, 2018

Location: Palawan

Event:  The Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines posted the following information on their official Facebook page: “Western Command remains on heightened alert and continues to tighten its security posture in Palawan against all forms of threats, amidst circulating information on probable kidnapping in the Province.”

Actions to Take:

  • Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

  • Review your personal security plans.

  • Monitor local media for updates.

Travel Advisory

April 13, 2018

Philippines – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution in the Philippines due to crimeterrorism, civil unrest, and a measles outbreak.  Some areas have increased risk.  Read the entire Travel Advisory.    

Do not travel to:

  • The Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crimeterrorismandcivil unrest.

  • Marawi City in Mindanao due to terrorismand civil unrest.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Other areas of Mindanao due to crimeterrorismandcivil unrest.

Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting possible kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in the Philippines. Terrorist and armed groups may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.  The Philippine government has declared a “State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao.”

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO" aka "THE CRUSTY OLD EXPAT." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.