Safety and security


On 2 June 2017, a gunman set fire to a casino in Pasay, Manila. 38 people were killed, including the gunman. The Philippines authorities have identified this as a criminal act.

There’s a high level of violent crime, including gun crime. Although British nationals are not normally targeted, they have been caught up in some incidents.

Criminal gangs sometimes use terrorist tactics like kidnapping. Explosions attributed to criminal organisations have caused fatalities.

There is a high incidence of street crime and robbery. You should take sensible precautions. Arrange to be met at the airport, or use a hotel transfer service or an official airport taxi where they exist. Only use taxis from a reputable company. Some taxi drivers and their accomplices have robbed and harmed passengers. Avoid displaying cash or jewellery. Beware of strangers offering drinks or confectionery. They may be spiked.

Be particularly vigilant when travelling on public transport. Armed hold-ups have occurred on ‘jeepneys’ and buses, mainly in larger cities like metro Manila and Cebu. In some cases these have resulted in fatalities.

Local travel

Seek advice from local contacts and always leave travel plans with friends, colleagues or relatives. Safety standards on taxis, buses and boats can be low.

You should take particular care during the rainy season when flash floods and landslides can occur.

Air travel

A list of incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety Network.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

With effect from June 2015, all Philippine airlines are allowed to operate in European airspace.

Sea travel

There is a high level of piracy and armed robbery against ships in and around Philippine waters.

Commercial shipping companies have been advised to adopt a heightened vigilance when navigating the Sulu and Celebes Seas. Most maritime incidents occur in the Sulu Sea in the area between Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, Palawan and Sabah (Malaysia).

The Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) advise all ships to re-route from the area where possible.

Avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats if possible. They are often overloaded, lack necessary lifesaving equipment, are not adequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly.

There are frequent accidents involving ferries and other forms of sea transport, resulting in loss of life. Two large ferries sank in 2013 causing a substantial number of casualties and injuries. Another incident in July 2015 in the Visayas led to over 60 deaths when a boat overturned in strong waves.

Maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited.

Political situation

Keep up to date with local and international developments, and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people. The Philippines Bureau of Immigration have specifically warned foreign nationals against participating in public protests and political rallies. Foreign nationals who participate in these activities may be detained and deported for violating Philippine immigration laws.