Duterte meets AFP, PNP over travel advisories

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte met police and military officials over the negative travel advisories issued by three countries restricting their citizens from traveling to three cities in Mindanao, including Davao.

The meeting, however, was called not to belittle the three countries --United States, Canada and Australia -- for including Davao City as among the areas that may be dangerous to foreign nationals.

"It is not ours to pass judgment and I will not belittle the advisory. Wala akong problema diyan. After all, it is intended to protect the national community," Duterte told reporters in a press conference before a meeting with the intelligence community at the Grand Men Seng Hotel on Saturday.

Rodrigo Duterte calls for a command conference
DAVAO. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte listens to the interaction of police and military officers during the command conference he called at the Grand Men Seng Hotel, Saturday. (King Rodriguez)


He said that as the local chief executive, he has directed the authorities to intensify security measures by putting in place precautionary measures, setting check points, more police visibility and "increase warm bodies on the ground."

He also said that it is not good to just brush off the advisories, since these are made based on intelligence data. “Pag binalewala mo, that's not good."

Duterte also believes the negative advisories may have played into the cancellation of the Advertising Congress slated to be hosted in Davao City this November.

But it was earlier made clear by the organizers that the Ad Congress cancellation came after three of its key members went on indefinite leave.

Only seven members are remaining with the group, comprised of the Marketing Opinion Research Society, Media Specialists Association, United Print Media Group, Cinema Advertising Association, Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines, Independent Blocktimers Association of the Philippines, and the Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines.

"We tried our best to organize the Ad Congress, but without the support of all member-associations, we feel we cannot mount a successful Ad Congress," said Bienvenido Niles Jr., 2013 AdBoard chairman, without citing any travel advisory.

The US Embassy in Manila, in a security message, alerted US citizens residing in or traveling to the Philippines about the restriction on US Embassy personnel in Manila.

"Effective immediately, the Embassy has further restricted its personnel to travel to Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City," the security message said.

"The Embassy wishes to remind all US citizens to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security in all circumstances by reviewing your personal safety plans; remaining aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitoring local news sources for updates," it added.

Despite this, Duterte assured the people of Davao City that the local government is trying its best to protect the people.

He said it would be unfair to attribute the threat to any revolutionary front or any insurgency activity somewhere in Mindanao.

The mayor also refused to pinpoint to any individual's name or organized group "unless the America and Canada and Australia would identify."

"I hope the terrorist would change their mind. I appeal to them that it would do no good to anybody to really just kill people for nothing," Duterte said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 08, 2013.

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