There’s a high level of violent crime, including gun crime. Although British nationals are not normally targeted, they have been caught up in some incidents.
Criminal gangs sometimes use terrorist tactics like kidnapping. Explosions attributed to criminal organisations have caused fatalities.
There is a high incidence of street crime and robbery. You should take sensible precautions. Arrange to be met at the airport or use a hotel transfer service. Only use taxis from a reputable company. Some taxi drivers and their accomplices have robbed and harmed passengers. Avoid displaying cash or jewelry. Beware of strangers offering drinks or confectionery. They may be spiked.
Be particularly vigilant when travelling on public transport. Armed hold-ups have occurred on ‘jeepneys’ and buses. In some cases these have resulted in fatalities.
Seek advice from local contacts, avoid travel to remote areas and always leave travel plans with friends, colleagues or relatives. Safety standards on taxis, buses and boats can be low.
You should take particular care during the rainy season when flash floods and landslides can occur.
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) group have signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. However, other armed groups remain active and the situation could deteriorate with little warning. There are on-going clashes between the military and insurgent groups in the Sulu archipelago including Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo. Clashes have also occurred on the mainland of Mindanao.
A list of incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety Network.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
In 2009 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in the Philippines.
With effect from June 2015, all Philippine airlines are allowed to operate in European airspace.
Avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats if possible. They are often overloaded, lack necessary lifesaving equipment, are not adequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly.
There are frequent accidents involving ferries and other forms of sea transport, resulting in loss of life. Two large ferries sank in 2013 causing a substantial number of casualties and injuries. An incident in July 2015 in the Visayas led to over 60 deaths.
There is a high level of piracy and armed robbery against ships in and around Philippine waters.
Maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited.
Keep up to date with local and international developments, and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people. The Philippines Bureau of Immigration have specifically warned foreign nationals against participating in public protests and political rallies. Foreign nationals who participate in these activities may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.
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