EU, France condemn bombing; travel alerts out
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) and France joined the global community in condemning last Friday’s bomb attack in Davao City that left 15 people dead and scores injured.

“The international community is working together to counter this global threat, and we stand by the authorities in the Philippines in their efforts to provide stability and security for their citizens against this threat,” EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said.

Kocijancic issued a statement saying the EU stands in solidarity with the people and the Philippine government.

“Our sincere condolences go to the families and friends of those who were killed, and we wish a quick recovery to those who were injured,” she said.

“Tackling terrorism, in any form and in any country, is a priority for the European Union.”

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development expressed solidarity with the Filipino people and the local authorities in the Davao bombing attack.

“France condemns in the strongest possible terms the explosion that took place in Davao,” the French ministry said in a statement.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also joined leaders in condemning the deadly bombing in Davao City.

In his letter to President Duterte, Xi said he was shocked to learn of the incident in the Philippines.

“China is firmly opposed to terrorism in all forms, and strongly condemn the violent terrorist acts targeting innocent civilians,” Xi said.

“China stands ready to work together with the international community, including the Philippines, to jointly combat terrorism and to maintain the global and regional peace and stability.”

Travel warning

At least five countries, however, issued travel warning to their citizens in the Philippines following the bomb attack on Friday.

Australia, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore have informed their citizens of the “state of lawlessness” declared by Duterte.

Australia told its citizens to reconsider their plans to travel to Mindanao, including Davao City, and exercise high degree of caution in the Philippines.”

The US embassy said in its advisory that it would temporarily suspend all official travels to Mindanao.

“While we have no information that indicates there is a direct threat to US citizens or interests in the Philippines, the embassy encourages all US citizens to remain vigilant and employ sound personal security measures as you go about your day,” the advisory read.

The United Kingdom told its citizens to avoid travelling to southwest Mindanao and Sulu, where the local terror group Abu Sayyaf is based.

It also advised its citizens to allow extra time to pass through security, something that should be expected as the country prepares for the declaration of a state of lawlessness.

“The Philippine government has declared a ‘state of lawlessness’ and heightened security measures are expected to be in place including in airports and other major transport hubs,” the advisory said.

“Allow extra time to pass through security, if travelling in or through the Philippines at his time.”

British Ambassador Asif Ahmad, for his part, offered condolences to the families of the victims.

“The only way to deal with outlaws is to use the full force of the law. Cult of death has to be stopped (in the) Philippines,” Ahmad said on his Twitter account.

The Singapore embassy in Manila also advised its citizens to exercise vigilance as it condemned the bomb attack in Davao City.

“Singapore condemns the bomb explosion in Davao City… which killed and injured many innocent people. We extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish the injured a speedy recovery,” the embassy said.

The Canadian government updated its “security tab” and advised its citizens from traveling to Mindanao and Sulu.

Malacañang downplayed the travel advisories, saying “it was always the case whenever something happens.”

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said foreign governments are expected to advise its citizens to be careful during their stay in the Philippines.

“It is normal for these countries to issue travel warnings, alerts. Life continues here in the Philippines. It is still more fun in the Philippines. The country has more than 7,000 islands. They (tourists) can choose one city or municipality spot where they can enjoy. It is up to the traveler to choose. They are safe here,” Andanar said.

Andanar said the government is assuring the safety of the foreigners in the Philippines.

He said last Friday’s bomb attack in Davao and other places in Mindanao are isolated incidents.

“It’s just one place in the south where it happened. We know that it was a terrorist act done exactly to arrest our development here in the south. But you know, it’s just one,” he said.

Following the bombing attack, President Duterte placed the entire country under a “state of lawlessness,” prompting security forces to tighten the monitoring of all possible targets. – With Giovanni Nilles, Christina Mendez

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