The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago and the island of Mindanao.
This Travel Warning reflects continuing threats in those areas due to terrorist and insurgent activities.
U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.
U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. In 2013, separatist and terrorist groups increased the tempo and scale of their activities and confrontations with Philippine security forces, with increased bombings, attacks on civilians and political leaders, and battles with security forces.
In September 2013, elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) occupied portions of the city of Zamboanga and engaged in a lengthy battle with security forces which reduced large parts of the city to rubble. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front (BIFF) has been particularly active in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence.
The U.S. Embassy has imposed a strict restriction on all but the most essential travel to Mindanao, and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, including urban centers.