Three Western embassies join US in raising terror warnings in Philippines
Three embassies follow US in raising alert, as local forces pledge heightened security
Britain, Canada and Australia yesterday joined the United States in issuing a security alert for their citizens in the Philippines after the US embassy warned of a threat against Americans in the capital.
The warnings urged Westerners in Manila to be on alert amid fears they could get caught up in an attempted attack against Americans.
"Any attack could be indiscriminate and we advise British nationals to exercise particular caution and extra vigilance in places frequented by expatriates and foreign nationals," the British foreign office alert said.
The Canadian foreign affairs office said "continuing reports suggest that there is an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests in the Philippines".
Australians were advised to "exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines because of the high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of serious crime".
Britons were told that terrorist attacks "could be indiscriminate" and targets could include airports, shopping malls, and churches.
Metropolitan Manila police chief Leonardo Espina said he ordered beefed-up security for embassies, with increased patrols by uniformed and plain-clothes officers.
Armed forces spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said the military had not monitored any "significant threat" against Americans and other Westerners. "Nevertheless, we are taking this seriously," he said.
On Friday, the US embassy warned that an unspecified threat against Americans in the capital had been detected by "reliable security forces".
"This threat remains in effect until October 10, 2012," the advisory said.
The embassy would not elaborate on the danger.
Both the Philippine military and police said the threat warning did not originate from them, adding they were unaware of any specific plot against Americans. But they said co-ordination was increased with the US embassy to tighten security and monitor possible threat groups.
President Benigno Aquino's spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, said the police presence had been heightened in the capital to safeguard not only Americans but also Filipinos.
The US government issued an alert in November 2010 that warned of an attack in Manila, particularly areas frequented by foreigners, which also prompted similar travel advisories from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and France.
The attack never materialised and Aquino subsequently criticised the Western allies for damaging his country's tourism prospects.
The US has a general warning about the risks of travel in the Philippines, a former US colony that for decades battled Islamic separatist rebels and more hardline Muslim militants in the far south of the country.
Additional reporting by Associated Press