By Rommel F. Lopez


Australia has warned its citizens against traveling to some parts of Mindanao, citing the “very high threat” of kidnapping, terrorist attack, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups.

In an advisory issued on Wednesday, June 5, Canberra urged Australians not to travel to central and Western Mindanao, as well as reconsider travel to Eastern Mindanao also due to the “very high levels of violent crime and the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping.”

The advisory came on the heels of the death of Dutch birdwatcher Ewold Horn, who was killed by his Abu Sayyaf captors as he tried to escape during an encounter with government forces in Patikul, Sulu on May 31.

He had been held hostage since 2012.

The travel advisory reminded Australians to that Mindanao is still under Martial Law effective until Dec. 31.

It said “martial law increases authorities’ powers to detain suspects, and put in place curfews and checkpoints.”

It advised its citizens to monitor Philippine media and “follow the instructions of local authorities.”

Australians were also asked to avoid large crowds and demonstrations and not to participate in political rallies, as it is illegal for non-Filipinos to join such activities.

Australian tourists to the Philippines were reminded that the typhoon season in the country normally runs from late May to December.

“Tropical storms, flooding and landslides may occur,” the advisory said.