(REUTERS/Cheryl

(REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)

The U.S. State Department renewed its travel warning for the Philippines on June 14th.  The latest travel advisory for U.S. citizens replaced a similar warning issued last year.  On November 2, 2010, the U.S. advised its citizens to avoid gathering in public places that are frequented by expatriates and foreign citizens including American citizens.

The travel warning for the Philippines in particular is typically updated routinely approximately every six months, explained US Embassy First Secretary and Press Attaché Rebecca B. Thompson.

This time, the department added that terrorist attacks could occur in the restive southern regions like the Sulu Archipelago and the island of Mindanao as well as the popular capital, Manila in areas such as airports and malls.

The government in the Philippines has complained that these warnings fail to take into account an improving security situation and have downplayed the updated travel advisory, maintaining that this is merely a routine assessment.  The Palace even argued that there have in fact been favorable changes in the very language used in the advisory from the previous assessment in November, and furthermore, that the administration is continuously working to ensure public safety and security. 

However, Al-Qaeda-linked militants have been blamed for bombings and kidnappings in the southern islands where Muslim rebels have fought for self-rule for decades.

Philippines tourism Secretary Alberto A. Lim said that he does not expect this to have any effect on the tourism industry in the Philippines.  There will be no effect - this is nothing new... Every United States Embassy post issues the same thing, said Mr. Lim in a phone interview with Business World.

The threat level for the coming months is said to be moderate in metro Manila and high in parts of Mindanao.