CEBU CITY – Governor Hilario Davide Jr. said Cebu province remains safe for local and foreign tourists after police and military authorities have assured the safety of the public against threats of terrorism and insurgency.
The Foreign Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom issued the travel advisory on December 31 and updated it on January 9 and it has included the municipalities of Badian and Dalaguete up to the southern part of Cebu.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.”
Tourism officers from different cities and municipalities in Cebu met recently with the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) and the military’s Central Command (Centcom) to discuss the security situation. Provincial information officer Ainjeliz Orong said the Cebu government hosted the security briefing and that Chief Inspector Florendo Fajardo, of the provincial police force, assured Davide that security measures are in place to keep the entire Cebu safe for tourists.
But Fajardo said: “We are not discounting the possibilities of threats and with the number of tourist influx especially during Sinulog and upcoming summer season, we will always beef up our security measures and double our vigilance against lawless elements.” Colonel Noel Baluyan, Centcom Task Force Cebu commander, agreed with the police that Cebu is a safe place for travel.
He said troops have been deployed across the province to beef up security, even in the absence of travel advisory from abroad. Davide thanked the police and military for its assurance and making Cebu safe not only for tourists, but for local residents as well. However, he said: “We have to be very watchful.” He said intelligence gathering of the police and the military could be bolstered by tapping barangay workers as well as the communities.
Chief Superintendent Dennis Agustin, Central Visayas deputy regional director, told local media that while there is no imminent threat in Cebu in time for the celebration of the 2019 Sinulog Festival and the Fiesta Señor, it is appropriate to take precautionary measures to ensure a peaceful province. “We may be inconvenienced, but it is for the security and safety of the greater majority,” Agustin said, adding that they are confident that the National Telecommunications Commission in Central Visayas will implement a signal a shutdown on January 19 and 20, when locals and visitors converge in this city for the annual celebration in honor of the Holy Child.
Senior Superintendent Royima Garma, Cebu City police chief, said they are monitoring “new faces” who may have come from other places to disrupt the events. “We are continuously coordinating with the intelligence community. We are monitoring the areas that will be filled with people,” she said. (John Rey Saavedra)
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