Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Philippine Defense Secretary Downplays Travel Advisories By U.S.A & Australia

Philippine Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. Monday downplayed the recent travel advisories issued by the United States and Australia on their citizens, saying that it was actually "better" for foreign countries to issue travel advisories to their nationalin the Philippines. The defense department is not affected by the travel advisories not to travel in certain areas in Mindanao, unless the two countries tell their citizens not to go to the Philippines, Ebdanetold reporters in Camp Aguinaldo. Ebdane said the advisories were "normal" since even the Philippine government could warn against travel to the southernmost island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, where troops are running after Al Qaeda-linked militants.The defense chief said it was actually "better" for foreign countries to issue travel advisories to their nationals in the Philippines. "If there is no advise and something happens, they (victims) have somebody to blame. Now, if there is an advise and you still go there and get victimized, it's because of your own fault," he said. In an advisory issued late Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said it has received information that terror suspects could bomb Central Mindanao "over the next several days." The U.S. embassy advised American nationals to stay away from public gatherings, especially the Palarong Pambansa (National Games), held in Koronadal City from April 22 to 28. Citing "credible information" that terror suspects were in the "advanced stage of attack planning," Australia warned its citizens against traveling to Basilan, Jolo, and Tawi-Tawi.