Beng saddened by travel advisories PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 July 2013 11:02

Mayor Beng Climaco has expressed dismay over a travel advisory issued by the embassies of Australian and Canada prohibiting their citizens from travelling to Central and Western Mindanao including Zamboanga City due to security concerns.

And as a show of protest, the mayor yesterday declined invitations by the US Embassy to attend the celebration of American Independence Day (4th of July) at the US Embassy in Manila and a gathering at the Sta. Cruz Island organized by the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) forces.

“I feel saddened that we have this travel advisory and today happens to be the fourth of July, America’s Independence Day,” Climaco told reporters covering City Hall as she divulged decision to decline invitations to two US-initiated activities to show protest to the travel advisories.

She justified that declining the invitations is her form of personal protest. “Este di mio personal protest, as long as there are travel advisories where they prohibit their citizens [to travel to this part of the country]. Hace anay yo di mio trabajo junto con mi maga vivientes antes de atende este maga social functions para puede kita el maga criteria or base del advisories” (This is my form of personal protest, for as long as there are travel advisories where they prohibit their citizens to travel to this part of the country. I will have to do my job together with my people before attending to these social functions so that the criteria or bases for the advisories will be diminished.)

In the course of the interview, Climaco personally called up Australian Ambassador Bill Tweedel, who happens to be in Sydney, to inquire about the July 1 travel advisory. “We want to get an update from somebody from the Embassy to guide us because this i snot very welcoming on the part of the City where you were a recent visitor. We hope measures can be done about this,” she told the envoy over the phone.

The Australian embassy issued the travel advisory July 1, a day after the envoy graced the oath-taking and turnover ceremonies of newly-elected officials. The Canadian embassy on the other hand issued the advisory July 2.  Both cited “the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups” in Central and Western Mindanao including the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and vicinity.

Specifically mentioned in both advisories are Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City including Kidapawan, General Santos, Iligan, Jolo and Isabela City.

“I don’t blame them (embassies for the issuance of the advisories) , poreso ta abla el Ambassador (Tweedel) there are basis and that his coming here (Sunday, June 30) had no connection to the advisory but this is something that is regularly done. This is not something new but we need to wake up, the police and personnel in charge of safe-keeping have to do their share,” the mayor attested.

As mayor, Climaco emphasized, she will make sure that all efforts will be exerted to prevent or minimize such incidents. “Hace kita todo el esfuerzo para privini con ete, but I am only one person. We have recently given worth P13 million brand new vehicles to the PNP complete with GPS communication system and our marching orders is for the police to perform and deliver”.

The mayor is also expected to formally write the embassies concerned to seek clarifications and updates concerning the advisories. — Sheila Covarrubias