Countries around the world, including the United States, are warning citizens not to travel to certain parts of the Philippines.
The US State Department currently has a travel advisory warning US citizens to avoid any non-essential travel to the city of Marawi on Mindanao as well as areas of the Sulu Archipelago. This is due to a prevalence of terrorist groups, terrorist activity, and martial law.
The warning from the State Department says that there is a heightened threat of kidnappings-for-ransom in Mindanao from terrorist and insurgent groups. Separatist and terrorist groups have attacked and kidnapped civilians, including foreigners.
The Philippine government declared martial law throughout Mindanao on May 23, 2017. To date, there haven’t been any reports of US citizens specifically being targeted, but even so, the area is unstable to the point of grave danger for anyone who travels there.
Other parts of the Philippines are perfectly safe. Please keep in mind that it is a relatively large country that is spread across many islands. If you’re worried about whether an upcoming trip to the Philippines might be affected by this advisory, you should check with the State Department. The current travel warning can be read here.
The State Department puts up travel warnings for many locations around the world, and some are obviously more serious than others. This Mindanao warning, for example, should be taken very seriously. Venezuela is another area with serious travel warnings currently in effect for US citizens due to the intense political unrest currently underway.
Travel Safer, Travel Smarter
Wherever you travel, remember that you can make yourself safer by registering your visit with the State Department. Before you leave, you can enroll in STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which lets you register the details of your trip with the State Department. STEP will inform you if any travel warnings arise before or during your trip, and if an emergency occurs while you’re on your trip, the State Department will know of your location and try to contact you.
You can also boost your safety by keeping the information for the closest US embassy on your person wherever you travel.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.