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UK issues travel advisory over poll-related violence in Philippines

08 May, 2007

The United Kingdom has warned its citizens of a possible escalation in election-related violence in the Philippines.

Mid-term elections are scheduled to be held in the Philippines on May 14, 2007.

In an updated travel advisory, Britain has advised its citizens to “take sensible precautions for their personal safety” and to avoid large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations.

The advisory, posted on the website of the British Embassy in Manila, capital of the Philippines, reads thus: “Mid-term elections will be held in the Philippines on May 14, 2007. There is the potential for politically motivated violence during the election period.”

“A week-long state of emergency,” the advisory adds, “declared by the President of the Philippines following the arrest of three people for an attempted coup, was lifted on March 3. However, public protests remain likely. There is often a rise in tensions and political unrest around public holidays, political events and important anniversaries.”

Earlier, the United States and the European Union had expressed concern over the increase in election-related violence in the Philippines, in which over 80 people have been killed since the election campaign began in January.

Australia has already issued a travel advisory for its citizens to avoid political rallies.

The United Kingdom has also maintained that the threat of terrorism is high throughout the Philippines and that terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out these attacks at any time and anywhere in the country.

The UK travel advisory explains: “We continue to believe that terrorists and criminal elements plan to kidnap foreign tourists from islands and coastal areas in the southern Philippines. Kidnappings from other parts of the Philippines cannot be discounted. Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets.”

Nearly 65,000 tourists from the United Kingdom visit the Philippines every year – constituting the fifth largest foreign tourist group after South Korea, the United States, China and Japan.

The Philippines is due to elect half of its 24-seat Senate, about 250 members to the House of Representatives and some 18,000 local officials on May 14.



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