The State Department alerts U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and urges extreme caution if traveling there. This Travel Alert replaces the Travel Alert dated November 24, 2009, and reflects the continuing instability in the area following acts of violence in the Mindanao province of Maguindanao in November and is supplemental to our September 17, 2009, Travel Warning to the Philippines. This Travel Alert expires on February 28, 2010.
Travelers should exercise extreme caution if traveling in the central and western portions of the island of Mindanao, as well as in the islands of the Sulu Archipelago. The violence in Maguindanao in 2009 and continued instability there resulted in the Government of the Philippines extending a state of emergency in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and in the city of Cotabato. The state of emergency includes road checkpoints conducted by the Philippine military and law enforcement. If U.S. citizens travel to Maguindanao despite this Travel Alert, they should understand there are heightened tensions and there will be a significant military presence. They should carefully research restrictions imposed upon travel and follow the instructions of officials with regards to limitations on movement.
Travelers to this area should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas. Some foreigners who reside in or visit Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago hire their own security.