The British government has updated its travel advice to warn against meddling in politics as the Philippine midterm election period gets underway.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office made the update yesterday (Wednesday, January 16) after the election period officially opened last Sunday.
It wrote: “The official election period runs from 13 January to 12 June; the Philippines Bureau of Immigration have specifically warned foreign nationals against participating in any protests and political rallies; you should avoid any demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.”
The advisory goes on to alert travellers to some of the practical effects of the election period. It says: “During this time additional security measures, such as extra security checks and roadblocks, will be put in place in many areas. You’re advised to follow the advice of local authorities.”
Emphasising its advice about avoiding political events, the advisory also warned that foreigners who participate in such activities could be detained and deported under Philippine immigration laws.
Such a thing happened to Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox last year, after she was accused of blurring the line between her missionary work and political campaigning.
The British travel advice also highlights the possibility of disorder as the election approach. It said: “It’s not uncommon to see increases in election related violence in the run up to elections. You should keep up to date with local activity and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people.”
As we reported in the December, at least on potential candidate has been gunned down in what appears to be a political assassination. Congressman Rodel Batocabe was shot dead, alongside a police escort, while handing out gifts at an old people’s home in Daraga Town.
The town’s mayor, Carlwyn Baldo, who Rep. Batocabe was planning to run against, has denied any hand in the shooting, despite testimony of the suspected gunmen implicating him.