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Crime & Security in Philippines

As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the world, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, visitors are advised to exercise good judgement and remain aware of their surroundings.

Reports of confidence games, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country. You must not flash your valuables (especially Apple iPods and iPhones) because they pose a pickpocketing threat. Carry small change and don't flash large bills.

A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the “date rape drug” (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers even if they appear legitimate. Women are advised to travel in large groups and must use caution when out at night. Do not enter alleyways and remote areas at night.

There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area. There have also been reports of vehicles with foreign passengers being robbed by gunmen while driving to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation; however, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger, and request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem.

When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and “jeepneys” should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card’s magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorised purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.

The Philippines National Police (PNP) is helpful, but is limited in its capacity to sufficiently respond and assist victims of crime and traffic accidents due to a limited number of response vehicles. All incidents of crime should be reported to the PNP. It is important that foreigners remain calm and polite when interacting with the PNP. Filipinos can become easily offended when spoken to in a loud or rude fashion. Corruption is widespread throughout Filipino society, including the PNP.

The loss or theft abroad of your passport should be reported immediately to the PNP and to the nearest embassy or consulate. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.