By Che Palicte
DAVAO CITY – The Army’s 10th Infantry Division (10ID) is not aware of the basis of the recent travel advisory issued by the Canadian government, warning tourists on visiting Mindanao, including the Davao region.
“We can assure and attest that our region is peaceful,” Maj. Mark Anthony Tito, the 10ID spokesperson, said during a press briefing Tuesday.
He noted that in 2023, they have not recorded any violent incidents in terms of terrorism, and insurgency.
“All we can say is, the [travel advisory] does not fit with what is happening here in our region,” Tito said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. formally declared Davao as an insurgency-free region on Oct. 27, 2022, following the resolution passed by the Regional Peace and Order Council Region 11 days earlier.
The Jan. 10 travel advisory released by the Canadian government warned tourists on traveling to several provinces of Mindanao island, due to the serious threat of terrorism, kidnapping, high levels of crime, and violent clashes between the security forces and rebel groups.
The areas include the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao); Northern Mindanao (Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental); Soccsksargen (Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat); and Zamboanga Peninsula (Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.
For Eastern Mindanao, the advisory urged tourists to avoid non-essential travel to Caraga (Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands Surigao del Norte, excluding Siargao Island and Surigao del Sur); and the whole of the Davao Region except Davao City.
Joji Ilagan Bian, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry-Mindanao and BIMP-EAGA chairperson, said they were disheartened by the recent travel advisory, noting that Mindanao and all its provinces continue to slowly usher peace toward progress.
“We understand that it is the role of their government to remind their citizens of their welfare, however, the advisory does not reflect the real situation on the ground. The security and safety of everyone, for travel and leisure, are guaranteed wherever they are in Mindanao,” Bian said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Maria Belen Acosta reiterated that Mindanao-island is safe and peaceful.
She said Mindanao is a work in progress, and some incidents cannot be controlled like any other transforming communities, but, she said all those “do not warrant serious concerns.”
“Those are readily addressed and swiftly responded to by the government with the strong support of the communities, and the safety and security forces,” she said. (PNA)