Travel Warning

July 22, 2011 - Juvenile Pickpocket Gangs

Personal Protective Measures

Several U.S. citizens have recently been victims of juvenile pickpocket gangs operating in the Malate neighborhood of Manila city.  This neighborhood is near the U.S. Embassy and is frequented by tourists.

These pickpocket gangs are comprised of street children between the ages of six and twelve, usually accompanied by an elderly man who acts as the ringleader.  Appearing to be homeless, they  begin their attack by demanding money from non-Filipino tourists.  They aggressively follow the tourists and eventually swarm around them, surreptitiously stealing personal items such as wallets and cell phones.  When the victims begin to protest, the children leave and continue walking down the street. There have been confirmed reports of this type of pickpocket gang victimizing tourists in Cebu City as well.  You should practice the "common sense" security measures outlined below:

You can stay in touch and get Embassy updates by checking the Embassy website, found at  You can also get global updates at the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information. 

If you don't have internet access, we have a call center for updates--1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

February 13, 2008

This Travel Warning updates information on the security situation and reminds Americans of the risks of travel in the Philippines.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for the Philippines issued April 27, 2007.

U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including those due to terrorism.  While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern.  Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago.

Kidnap for ransom gangs operate in the Philippines.  In October 2007, one such gang abducted a visiting U.S. citizen whose whereabouts are unknown at this time.  Several other foreigners were also kidnapped for ransom in 2007.  The New People’s Army (NPA), a terrorist organization, operates in many rural areas of the Philippines, including in the northern island of Luzon.  While it has not targeted foreigners in several years, the NPA could threaten U.S. citizens engaged in business or property management activities, and it often demands “revolutionary taxes.”

Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jema’ah Islamiyah, and groups that have broken away from the more mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front, have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries and property damage.  On January 3, 2008, a bomb exploded at a Cotabato City disco pub, killing one and injuring eight.  The central and western areas of Mindanao have also experienced bombings targeting bus terminals and public buildings.  While those responsible do not appear to have targeted foreigners, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas; a recent bombing outside the House of Representatives in Metro Manila resulted in a number of deaths and injuries to bystanders.

U.S. Government employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.  When traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.  Some foreigners who reside in or visit western and central Mindanao hire their own security.

The Department strongly encourages Americans in the Philippines to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department's travel registration website, The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000. The American Citizen Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-301-2017 and the ACS web page is at

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for the Philippines and the Worldwide Caution, located at American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 from the United States and Canada, or 202-501-4444 from overseas.