Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Palace: ‘High risk of terrorism’ in PHL is matter of perception

Reports that the Philippines has overtaken Thailand and Indonesia as countries with a high risk of terrorism is just “a matter of perception," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Tuesday.

“It’s a matter of perception but we disagree that we have overtaken Indonesia or Southern Thailand," Lacierda said, adding that the perception of increased risk may stem from the continuing security problems in Mindanao.

“But remember that [the Philippine-based terrorists’] pool of recruits is a lot smaller than that of Indonesia," he said, and that the operations of the local Abu Sayyaf group have already diminished, based on the latest government assessment.

The FTI-International Risk, which described itself as “the leading risk mitigation organization in Asia," reportedly released a report to businessmen on Tuesday, showing that the Philippines is supposedly lagging behind other countries in the region in containing threats from various armed groups.

Lacierda made assurances that the Philippine government is continuously monitoring the situation nationwide and is exchanging intelligence information with neighboring countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

“We monitor all threats, whether in the south or in the city…but again, it is not as grave as it was been assessed", he said.

During the last months of 2010, seven foreign governments had issued travel advisories that warned their nationals of possible risks in going to certain areas of the Philippines. Some of the advisories emphasized a supposedly “heightened risk of terrorist attack."

The latest to issue an adverse travel alert was the Hong Kong government, which on December 13 issued a black travel advisory on the Philippines over possible terrorist threats. (See: Hong Kong issues black travel advisory on PHL over terrorism threats)—JV, GMANews.TV

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