U.S. Embassy Warning – Davao Bombing

I just received this notice courtesy of the U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines

US Embassy, Manila

US Embassy, Manila

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Davao Bombing
September 3, 2016

THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES. PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD. THANK YOU.

An explosive device was detonated in a crowded market in Davao, Philippines on the evening of September 2, 2016. Media reports suggest at least 14 are dead and 60 injured. An investigation into the explosion is ongoing. A State of Lawlessness has been declared by the Philippine government and elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been placed on high alert. The Embassy continues to monitor these events as they develop.

The Embassy has temporarily suspended all official travel to Mindanao. While we have no information that indicates there is a direct threat to U.S. citizens or interests in the Philippines, the Embassy encourages all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and employ sound personal security measures as you go about your day. The Embassy will continue to monitor the current state of affairs in the Philippines and will release additional messages as needed.

The Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the most recent Department of State Worldwide Caution, dated March 3, 2016, which indicates there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against United States citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines. You may also wish to review the information in the most recent Philippines Travel Warning. Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, mass transportation systems – including airlines, and other public venues where large crowds gather. Crowded nightclubs, shopping malls, buses and popular restaurants have also been targets. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines.

The Embassy also notes that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been circulating letters in some communities, to include residential villages, outlining plans to search homes as part of the Philippine government’s ongoing anti-drug campaign. Local PNP leadership has informed the Embassy that the village sweeps are intended for the sole purpose of distributing information pamphlets so that residents know who to contact to report crimes or suspicious behavior. After these materials are distributed, barangay and PNP officials will conduct “knock and plead” operations only at those homes suspected of involvement in illegal drug operations.

My Thoughts On This

While president Duterte has declared a State of Lawlessness, the move is designed to ensure that the president has the powers to attack these threats head on. It basically provides him with an Executive Privilege to mobilize and place the PNP and AFP on high alert, which places military command ahead of civilian command of forces. This does not eliminate public or civil rights nor does it suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus.  It also further allow him to take the additional step in the declaration of Martial Law if necessary. May expats that live here see this as s necessary progression on multiple fronts: the war on terrorism and the corruption front, and is welcomed both by the civilian sector and the expat community. Yesterday, we passed through a checkpoint heading to the Calbayog City Fair last night that was manned by at least 15 PNP personnel. Because we were in a vehicle with tinted windows, we were stopped for a visual inspection. Once they seen inside our vehicle and that it was a was a family, we were politely waved on. The PNP were very polite, and professional and actually made us feel safe to know that public safety was a real concern. Generally speaking, life here at home has not been affected. While there may be some inconveniences traveling around the Philippines (buses, ferries, planes), for the most part, things seem perfectly normal.

As foreigners though, we should always be on alert. I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those victims and the grieving families who lost loved ones in the Davao bombing.”