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Philippine tourism drive to continue despite terror threats

MANILA, Nov 4 (Mabuhay) – Despite warnings from five countries of terrorist attacks in the Philippines, tourism officials will continue to “sell” the country as an attractive destination.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim also appealed to Filipinos Thursday to continue with their “normal” lives and deny terrorists an “initial” victory.

“The timing of the advisories was bad, but we will continue to ‘sell’ the Philippines as an attractive destination,” he said.

Lim said his department is coordinating its promotion efforts with Philippine embassies abroad.

“Maganda pa ang bansa natin, ang lugar. Ang ating warm welcome ganoon pa rin lalo na ngayon (Our place is still beautiful, and our hospitality remains warm),” he added.

Philippine tourism is still recovering from the blow caused by a hostage crisis in Manila last August 23.

Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed along with their hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

A composite government body investigated the incident and recommended sanctions against government officials and some media outfits.

At least five countries ñ the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada ñ have issued travel advisories to their nationals in the Philippines.

The advisories, which warned of looming terrorist attacks on places frequented by foreigners, came in the wake of a foiled terrorist plot to launch an attack on the US last week.

Malacanang said this has prompted state security forces to go on “full red alert.”

Also, Lim advised Filipinos to continue living their daily lives normally, although somewhat more vigilant.

“We must go on with our daily lives normally. We should be careful and report suspicious people but we should not be paranoid,” he said.

Similarly, the Armed Forces of the Philippines advised the public to report people acting suspiciously to police and the military.

“At this point the threat is real. Bagama’t wala pa tayong talagang natatanggap na balita na dito mismo dumapo, it’s real, it has happened time and again in other places, it can happen dito sa ating bansa,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. said in an interview on dzRH radio.

(At this point, the threat is real. While we have no confirmed reports of terrorists have arrived in our country, we must never discount the possibility that terror attacks can happen here, as what happened in other countries.)

LRT, MRT security

Security was tightened in vital installations including the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Thursday.

Security personnel at the LRT-2 line were more thorough in searching passengers for possible weapons or explosives.

On the other hand, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) reminded passengers to be at the airports “two to three hours” before their scheduled flights, whether international or domestic.

The MIAA has also coordinated with freight forwarders to be more stringent in screening parcels and packages. (MNS)

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