UK issues travel warnings for Mindanao; asks citizens to be vigilant

Marje Pelayo   •   January 2, 2019   •   2158

MANILA, Philippines – The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British citizens against all travels to Mindanao following the bomb attack in Cotabato City on Monday (December 31).

The travel advisory covers all travels to western and central Mindanao as well as the Sulu archipelago citing ‘terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.’

“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao, excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands, and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism,” the advisory further read.

The FCO cited the December 26, 2018 public notice issued by the United States Transport Security Administration which highlighted poor aviation security at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry,” the FCO said.

The advisory stressed that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila” and these attacks can be carried out “at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.”

Thus, the UK government advises its citizens to “remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.” – Marje Pelayo

Philippines, Singapore issue travel advisories to Hong Kong

Marje Pelayo   •   August 16, 2019

Hong Kong Police arrests anti-government protesters

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday (August 16) advised Filipino travelers who have no urgent business in Hong Kong to avoid Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) as destination or transit airport for the meantime as public unrest continuous to escalate.

The DFA reiterates in a statement that the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is closely monitoring the developments in the autonomous territory in relation to the ongoing protests in several areas there.

LIST of protest areas and schedule of demonstrations

Likewise, the Department advised Filipino travelers departing from Hong Kong to contact their respective airlines at least five hours before their scheduled flights for sudden changes and adjustments in their flight schedule.

Following are the airlines’ hotlines in Hong Kong:

  • Philippine Airlines: (+852) 2769.7123
  • Cebu Pacific: (+852) 3973.3800
  • Cathay Pacific: (+852) 2747.3333

Meanwhile, the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also issued a travel advisory to its citizens to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong, given current developments.

Singaporeans who are already in Hong Kong are advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and are reminded to be vigilant at all times.

MOFA also encourages Singaporeans in Hong Kong to eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/  for immediate coordination should the need arises.

Further details on the MOFA advisory can be viewed here.

Singapore, other countries issue travel warnings for Hong Kong amid protests

Marje Pelayo   •   July 26, 2019

Anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong | Courtesy : Reuters

Violent protests in Hong Kong has prompted countries to issue travel advisory to their citizens living and working in the Chinese territory.

On Friday (July 26), Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has advised Singaporeans in the city to avoid Hong Kong International Airport and Yuen Lung in the New Territories as protests are expected to erupt.

Also, activists are planning to hold a protest in Yuen Long on Saturday (July 27).

It was in Yuen Lung where so called ‘Triad members’ attacked anti-government protesters last Sunday (July 22) in a Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station and on a train which injured more than 40 passengers, according to local media reports.

“Protests which are meant to be peaceful may still have the potential to turn violent with little or no notice,” Singapore tells its citizens.

“If you are already in Hong Kong, you should take all necessary precautions to ensure your personal safety. You are advised to stay vigilant, monitor developments through the local news, and heed the instructions of the local authorities,” it added in the advisory.

The Singaporean government advised its citizens to stay vigilant and monitor developments through local news, and heed the instructions of the local authorities while in the city.

“Avoid protests and large public gatherings, and stay in touch with your family and friends so that they know you are safe,” it said.

Ireland was the first country to issue travel warning for Hong Kong then other countries followed suit including Canada, Japan and South Korea.

Travel Advisory for Hong KongFollowing reports of an upcoming protest at the Hong Kong International Airport…

Posted by Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, 25 July 2019

UK parliament’s ‘Big Ben’ bell marks 160 years with silence amid restoration work

Robie de Guzman   •   July 11, 2019

(London, England, UK) Big Ben’s clock face | Courtesy: Reuters

Britain’s parliament marks 160 years on Thursday (July 11) since its “Big Ben” bell first chimed. But the familiar bongs will not ring out to celebrate the occasion as the famous clock-tower is half way through a major restoration project.

That work has seen the 96-metre-tall Elizabeth Tower, one of the most photographed buildings in Britain, enveloped in scaffolding as the four clock dials are reglazed, ironwork repainted and intricately carved stonework cleaned and repaired.

It is the most extensive conservation programme ever carried out on the tower and has also involved removing the whole of its cast iron roof, made up of 3,433 pieces, for repairs.

The 13.7-tonne Big Ben bell will remain in place throughout the restoration works, which began in 2017 and are due to be completed in 2021, but has been largely silenced, sounding only for important events such as New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Victorian clock mechanism has been removed to be serviced and to ensure it is not damaged by dust and dirt generated during the works, with an electric motor installed to drive the clock’s 4.2 metre-long hands while it is gone.

Specialist tradesmen clad in high-vis vests and hard hats working with panoramic views across the London skyline have completed the clock’s north dial, with 324 individual new pieces of mouth-blown and hand-cut glass installed into the frame.

The Palace of Westminster on the bank of the River Thames, home to parliament and Big Ben, is a world heritage site and major tourist attraction.

A 4 billion pound ($5 billion) restoration programme of the entire building, which suffers from crumbling stonework, leaking roofs and failing plumbing, is due to begin in the mid-2020s and will see lawmakers moved out into a temporary building nearby. (REUTERS)

(Production: Chris Read)

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