MANILA, Philippines – National police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, April 10, confirmed that police in Central Visayas had monitored reports of groups planning to conduct kidnappings in the Central Visayas region, following a travel advisory from the United States.
“We’re preparing for that. I was briefed by the regional director of the Police Regional Office 7 that they’re monitoring it, and they have the corresponding actions to thwart this threat,” said Dela Rosa in a press briefing.
The United States embassy in the Philippines issued a travel warning over “unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas, which includes both Cebu and Bohol provinces.”
“U.S. citizens are advised to carefully consider this information as you make your travel plans, and to review personal security plans, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and remain vigilant at all times,” said the embassy over the weekend.
Dela Rosa refused to say which specific group was being monitored.
The US in early March 2017 issued a “Worldwide Caution” over “ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines.”
“U.S. citizens should be mindful of the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines,” it added in its latest travel warning over threats in Central Visayas.
The US State Department also has a standing December 2016 travel warning against “all non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, and to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the island of Mindanao, due to continued terrorist threats, insurgent activities, and kidnappings.”
But Dela Rosa downplayed fears over the security situation in Central Visayas, saying security forces there are prepared.
“I’m giving assurance to the people that our police in Central Visayas are ready. Don’t be afraid to go to those areas [Cebu and Bohol] although there’s an advisory, that’s the [US’s] role to advise their citizens but for me, this is ours. Even you guys would not be afraid to go to Cebu or Boho,” said Dela Rosa.
Police are gearing up for the exodus of people from the cities and into their home provinces later this week for Holy Week. – Rappler.com