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Philippines calls for terror warnings to be downgraded

world Updated: Nov 04, 2010 09:57 IST

The Philippines on Thursday urged the United States and other allies to downgrade travel warnings about an imminent terrorist attack in Manila, saying it had not monitored any such threat.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand issued travel advisories this week warning an attack may occur at any time in the Philippine capital, and that areas frequented by foreigners were potential targets.

But Philippine foreign affairs department spokesman Ed Malaya said local security authorities disagreed with the advisories.

"They are not really seeing any imminent threat," Malaya said on DZBB radio.

"Our expectation... is that they (foreign governments) will review and update their travel advisories so that it will be reflective of the generally peaceful conditions that we have."

Malaya could not be reached for comment.

Armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta said that, because of the advisories, troops in the sprawling capital of 12 million had been placed on heightened alert with sensitive installations being closely watched.

But he said the alert was only a precaution, and that military intelligence did not share the view of an imminent terror attack.

"There is nothing extraordinary. Everything is normal, people are going about their usual business," Mabanta told reporters.

In their travel advisories, the Western countries warned their citizens to take precautions when travelling to public areas in Manila, including shopping centres and airports.

Reliable information indicated that terrorist attacks may occur at any time in Manila, they said.

But the head of the anti-terrorism unit at the National Bureau of Investigation, Ross Bautista, said that the intelligence information gathered so far had not been validated.

"We have received information from outside (of the country), and we are processing that," he said.

"It needs to go through analysis and needs to be verified if they are really true."

The NBI is the investigative arm of the justice department and is the local counterpart of Washington's Federal Bureau of Investigation.