Provincial exec: Korean travel warning won’t affect Bohol tourism
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol — The tourism industry will not be affected by the travel advisory issued by the South Korean Consulate warning its citizens against traveling to the province for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit meetings that are scheduled to start on Wednesday.
“We respect the advisory. But I think it’s up to the different travel agencies based in Korea to coordinate with the appropriate agencies such as the Department of Tourism,” provincial administrator Ae Damalerio said.
Damalerio pointed out that Bohol would not be affected by the travel advisory because the province had other visitors both foreign and local.
He admitted that the resorts suffered cancellations during the clash between government troops and suspected members of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf in a remote village in Inabanga town last week.
But he claimed that the bookings resumed and even went up after the threat was contained.
“(Tourism was) slightly affected,” he said. “But I went to Alona area (on Panglao Island) and Anda (town) the other day. There are still lots of tourists in the areas.”
According to Edeza Maslog, assistant statistician of the Bohol Tourism Office, a lot of visitors in Bohol were Koreans and Chinese.
In the entire province, Panglao was the most visited, she said.
The South Korean Consulate in Cebu issued a special travel advisory, urging its nationals to cancel or postpone their trips to Bohol from April 13 to 23.
“Judging that public insecurity caused by the infiltration of terrorist group could continue for some time in the Island of Bohol, the venue of the ASEAN Summit from April 18 until 22, the Foreign Ministry has made the move to protect nationals of the Republic of Korea there,” read the advisory.
It was referring to the group of suspected members of Abu Sayyaf who entered a remote village in Inabanga town in Bohol on suspicion that they had plans to conduct terror activities in nearby islands.
Residents alerted the police on the presence of the armed men. The police then coordinated with the military. A joint team was sent and an intense firefight broke out, which lasted for 24 hours.
When the smoke of battle cleared, four suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf, three soldiers, one policeman and two civilians – a husband and wife in their 60s – were killed in battle, which included at least 10 airstrikes by the military.
The military is still hunting down eight other people – including Joselito Milloria, a native of Napo who reportedly escorted the bandit group during their entry into the village.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also offered a cash reward to those who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of the remaining Abu Sayyaf members.
Lt. Colonel Adolfo Espuelas Jr., chief of the AFP Military Intelligence Group 7, told a briefing on Monday afternoon that P100,000 would be given to each Abu Sayyaf member arrested – or a total of P800,000 for all eight.
Espuelas said he had received reports that Melloria was wounded and that the bandit group had not received any community support.
At least 200 delegates would be coming to Panglao to attend the meetings for the ASEAN Summit from April 18 to 22.
At least 3,200 policemen will secure the delegates during the meeting, said Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, chief of the Central Visayas Police Regional Office.
He assured delegates that they need to worry about anything because the ongoing operations against the remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf were confined to Inabanga town, at least 80 km away from Panglao, the venue of the meetings.
He added that all delegates would be escorted by policemen until they had left Bohol.
Taliño said their counterparts in the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Police, and the Philippine Navy are guarding the shores of Bohol, while members of the Philippine Air Force are monitoring the skies.
“I’m asking our people to be vigilant and alert at all times,” he said. “If you notice suspicious-looking persons and unusual events, report it immediately to the police.” —With a report from Ador Mayol /atm
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.