President Rodrigo R. Duterte is merely concerned over the safety of tourists visiting the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.
“The President’s statement cautioning foreigners from travelling to Zamboanga is his way of looking out for the safety of tourists visiting the Philippines. While we assure the public that government security forces are always on the alert to prevent and respond to incidents, it is better for everyone to take personal measures to ensure their security,” Lorenzana said in a statement forwarded to reporters.
In his speech at the opening ceremony of the 7th Union Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Tuesday, the Chief Executive warned tourists against visiting Zamboanga City due to security threats posed by Abu Sayyaf terrorists and Islamic State-linked terror groups.
“But there is a certain place which I would not recommend to anybody to go there, not just as yet — is Zamboanga. I still [unclear] the problem because some Europeans go there for a bird-watching. And they are captured; and eventually they are decapitated even after the payment of ransom. It’s the ISIS actually. It used to be the Abu Sayyaf (Group) — it’s a band of brigands but now it’s an Abu Sayyaf territory,” Duterte said.
The Abu Sayyaf is an Islamist militant group operating in the southern part of the country engaged in kidnap-for-ransom and terrorist activities.
Some of the group’s notorious acts include the Sipadan kidnappings in Malaysia in 2001, the kidnapping and beheading of some hostages at the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan in 2001 and the bombing of the Superferry 14 in 2004.
“We also encourage the public to work closely with the authorities to make our communities safer for everyone,” Lorenzana added. (PNA)
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