DAVAO CITY – This city’s Mayor Rodrigo Duterte scored as “lacking sufficient basis” the travel advisories issued by countries to their citizens who are either planning to travel a location or are already in Mindanao which mostly concern security.
Duterte did not hide his indignation when he addressed leaders and participants of the 2nd Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), and Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand-Growth Triangle (IMG-GT) Trade Fair and Business Leader’s Conference, which opened in Davao City today.
“Everytime that we have events of this nature and magnitude in our city, it elates us no end. This is so because your presence here today sends a message nationally and internationally that all is well in Mindanao, particularly Davao City, foreign travel advisories on the contrary,” said Duterte
Duterte said that Mindanao has lately been “taking a bashing from foreign sources.”
“This conference and trade proves if years have precipitated, the issuance of these travel advisories lack sufficient basis,” said Duterte.
“I urge our friends from abroad to visit Davao City and draw their conclusions only after they have experienced for themselves what Davao is,” he said.
Duterte said that “there is law, there is order and there is development in Davao City and Mindanao”.
“It would be nice if you can spend a little time to savor the hospitality of Davaoenos, move around Davao City, do not confine yourselves to the barracks, as the man in uniform would say,” he said.
In July 2013, the United States, Canada and Australia have issued travel advisories to key cities in Mindanao including Davao City.
Duterte convened commanders and higher-ups of security forces in the city as he said he “respects” these advisories which may have their “own basis.”
Not long after, the organizers of the national Ad Congress the event in Davao City, which Duterte hinted to have been caused by the “perceived threats” in Mindanao.
In August 2013, national authorities alerted Davao City of a still unknown threat group allegedly targeting Mindanao cities.
The threats, according to progressive groups surfaced allegedly to “force” Duterte into agreeing with a US request to convert the old Davao City airport into a US drone base.
Duterte in the same month said the US made the offer but he refused because “it would make Davao City a target of the enemies of the US.”
Davao, who was then preparing for its big annual feast Kadayawan, was forced to tighten security and which some say added to the already tensed mood.
In September 2013, two bombs were detonated in two cinemas inside two Davao City malls but no one was killed or severely injured.
Duterte, in an interview said the suspects are targeting “US establishments.”
Before the bombing, however, Duterte made a statement implying he would change his stance and allow foreign military forces in the city if security threats continued.
In the WorldWide Caution released by the United States Department of State last October 10, the Philippines was included in countries in the East Asia and Pacific where there is a “risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region.”
Among the groups identified by the caution is the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group, which “have cells operating throughout Southeast Asia and JI is linked to al-Qaida and other regional terrorist groups.”
“There is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu Archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao,” said the Worldwide Caution. (davaotoday.com)