Phillippines is a Far Eastern country with Travel Info

Philippines

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Country Description: The Philippines is a developing democratic republic consisting of more than 7,000 islands, of which 880 are inhabited. The major areas are Luzon to the north, the Central Visayas, and Mindanao in the south. Tourist facilities are available within the population centers and main tourist sites. English is widely spoken in the Philippines and most signs are in English.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: U.S. citizens with a passport valid for at least six months and an onward ticket can enter the country without a visa for visits up to twenty-one days. Additional information concerning entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Philippines, 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 467-9300, or from the Philippine Consulates General in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime is of serious concern in the Philippines. Reports of homicides, kidnapping, other crimes of violence, confidence games, pickpocketing and credit card fraud are common in the local press and usually involve Filipino victims. However, foreign tourists are sometimes victims of crimes as well. Visitors are urged to beware in crowds or areas not normally frequented by tourists and to be cautious when approached by strangers. Tourists frequenting lower quality nightclubs, where reports of drugging and robbing of foreign tourists are common, are particularly at risk. Lost or stolen U.S. passports should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Manila or the Consular Agency in Cebu. Photocopies of the passport identification page should be kept separately from the passport. Useful information on safeguarding valuables and maintaining personal security while traveling is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad." It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402

Road Safety and Internal Travel: Travel within the archipelago can be done by boat, plane, bus or car. Few tourists rent a car to drive themselves as the road system is crowded and discipline is weak. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night. Caution is urged in planning travel by older, inter-island ferry boats or other public conveyances to avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport.

Drug Penalties: Travelers are subject to the laws and legal practices of the countries which they visit. In the Philippines, penalties are strict for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Capital punishment is possible for certain drug-related crimes.

Carrying Firearms: The Philippine government has very strict laws regarding the possession of firearms by foreigners. Several foreigners have been sentenced to life imprisonment for bringing firearms into the Philippines.

Aviation Concerns: In July, 1995, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced that it had found areas in which the government of the Philippines' Civil Aviation Authority was not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Philippine air carrier operations. The government of the Philippines was given a conditional rating. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, Philippine air carriers are permitted to conduct limited operations to the U.S. subject to heightened FAA surveillance. The FAA is not providing heightened surveillance for operations to destinations other than the U.S. Travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation hotline at 1-800-322-7873 for a summary statement of the assessment.

Security Concerns: The security situation has improved in most areas of the country in recent years. The government of the Philippines is engaged in negotiations with communist and Muslim rebels. Nevertheless, rebel activity along with armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still poses potential security concerns.

Although the New Peoples Army is greatly reduced from its height in the 1980's, NPA insurgents remain active in mountainous and jungle areas, including some parts of Mindanao and Negros Island as well as Quezon province and the Cordillera and Bicol regions of Luzon. In Mindanao, crime and insurgent activity may make travel hazardous to and within the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, Lanao Del Norte, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North and South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

The threat of terrorist action by extremists, both domestic and foreign, does exist in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible kidnapping or terrorist acts aimed at U.S. government installations, public and private institutions and means of transportation. However, the majority of these reports have not been followed by terrorist action.

Kidnapping for ransom and extortion occurs frequently. Usually, the victims are local; however, there have been attempts directed against U.S.-based companies. Security is not a major concern at the popular tourist and diving sites.

Weather: During the rainy season (May to November) there are typhoons and flash floods. Flooding can cause road delays, particularly in central Luzon, where ash from the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo can flow and cut off roads and bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links with the country. Volcanic activity continues and periodically the government of the Philippines announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country.

Medical Facilities: Adequate medical care is available in major cities, but is limited in rural and more remote areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is often not accepted. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment of medical services outside the United States. Supplemental overseas medical insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation, has proven useful. Additional information on health matters can be obtained from the international travelers hotline of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tel.(404) 332-4559, or the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

Registration/Embassy Location: U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Philippines are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The Embassy is located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila City - telephone; (63-2) 521-7116. Effective June 1, 1997, the Embassy number will be 523-1001. The Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The address is: Third Floor, PCI Bank, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City - telephone: (63-32) 231-1261.

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