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Britain lifts travel restriction to Mindanao


By Roy Mabasa

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the British government on Friday removed its advisory to all its citizens against all types of travel to the south of Cebu.

According to the British Embassy in Manila, the removal is a “substantive change” rather than the more usual factual updates.

“Please note that this is a substantive change rather than the more usual factual updates. A substantive change is when we change our advice on what British nationals should or shouldn’t do. A factual update is when we do not change our advice, but we add information about something that has happened or in existence in the country concerned to help British Nationals be aware of recent events,” British Embassy Press and Communications Manager Cecille Fontanilla explained in a note sent to reporters.

Days before the Christmas holidays last December, the FCO issued an advisory to its citizens against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.

Other areas included in the travel warning was the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and the island of Siargao) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian. The FCO also cited threats of terrorism as a reason for the advisory.

On December 31, 2018, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded outside a shopping mall in Cotabato City that left at least two dead and several others injured.

Three weeks later on January 21, two explosions rocked the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu killing 21 people and injuring less than a hundred others.

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