Philippines’ negative image – new cases

Brent Symes

Philippines’ negative image got worse this week. After last week’s abduction of three foreign tourists on Samal island, the “Planted Bullets scam” made it through the press worldwide. And now an Australian surf professional got attacked in Siargao. Foreign government warn from traveling to the Philippines.

The smoke of the “Planted Bullets scam” has not yet been swept away and the three abducted tourist have not yet been found. And already new bad news from Siargao’s Cloud 9 Surfing Cup 2015 bash Philippines’ tourism. The Australian “Gold Coast Bulletin” writes: ‘Gold Coast pro surfer lucky to survive bashing by locals at Philippines surfing event’.

A Gold Coast professional surfer narrowly escaped with his life in the Philippines after being bashed in the surf by five men before a World Surfing League event.

Brent Symes - Philippines’ negative image

Brent Symes, 36, of Tweed Heads, was brutally attacked in knee-deep water by locals wielding bats and bottles after he accidentally drifted too close to their surf break on Monday while watching trials ahead of the Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup from the water. Filipino police yesterday confirmed the five locals were now in custody and facing charges of attempted murder.

“I thought I was going to die,” the father-of-one said yesterday from Siargao. “I have been locked inside my room for three full days, scared they’re going to come after me. “During this attack I was assaulted physically and had my surfboard destroyed and also had many cuts on my feet from defending myself in the water. “I believe I did nothing wrong and the incident was a misunderstanding by local radicals.”

Mr Symes, known among surfers as “Red Dog”, had been competing in the event and had gone through his first heat. He was watching from his board in a spectator area when he drifted into the competition zone. “I was granted permission to be a water spectator during the final heat of the trials,” he said. “During this heat I found myself out of position and caught an inside wave to reposition out of the way of competitors. “Soon after, hearing something on the PA, I decided to come into shore and exit the break. “Upon my return to the beach I was mauled by local guys with bats and bottles and had to defend myself until I could safely exit the situation. “This is attempted murder — I’m in shock. “In all my years of surfing I’ve never experienced this before.”

Brent Symes - Philippines’ negative image

The WSL yesterday confirmed it was aware of the incident and was in talks with local authorities to determine how the violence unfolded. Mr Symes, who moved to the Gold Coast from Port Macquarie 12 years ago, was provided with a fulltime security guard after three days so he could safely travel around the city. The WSL said it was taking precautions against further violence. “The WSL is aware of an incident regarding one of its competitors involved in an altercation that occurred during the non-sanctioned local trials ahead of our Philippines event,” a WSL spokesman said. “The league is currently in discussion with the athlete, local authorities and event organisers to remedy the situation as safely and as soon as possible.” Surfing insiders said the WSL would want to be separated from the incident.

The Philippines is a notoriously dangerous country, with recent abductions of three Westerners and a Filipino woman from a southern Philippine resort the latest reminder of long-running security problems that have hounded a region of stark poverty.

Philippines’ negative image

 A local incident with nationwide impact

Several governments around the world have updated their travel warnings for the Philippines. Philippines’ negative image gets worse. Please read an extract of Australian
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines due to the high threat of a terrorist attack and the high level of crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.

  • Violent crime is a significant problem in the Philippines. See Safety and security.
  • Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in the Philippines, including in Manila. You should avoid places known to be terrorist targets. See Safety and security.
  • There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout the Philippines. The threat is highest in the southern Philippines, including coastal and island tourist resorts and dive sites, including in remote locations in the Sulu Sea and along the Zamboanga Peninsula. Groups based in the south are capable of carrying out kidnappings and launching attacks in other parts of the Philippines, including areas surrounding the Sulu Sea such as Palawan, and other locations frequented by tourists.
  • On 21 September 2015, three foreign tourists were reportedly kidnapped from a resort on Samal island, near Davao City in Davao del Norte. Investigations into the incident are ongoing. See Safety and security.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to eastern Mindanao (including the provinces of Bukidnon, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental) due to the very high levels of violent crime and the high threat of terrorist attack. See Safety and security.
  • We advise you not to travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Sulu Archipelago and in the southern Sulu Sea area, due to the very high threat of kidnapping, terrorist attack, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups. See Safety and security.
  • The typhoon season normally runs from late May to December. This is also the rainy season when tropical storms, flooding and landslides may occur

I have highlighted Camiguin in DFAT‘s text. Can you imagine what impact on our local tourism such a warning may have? There are no violent crimes and terrorist attacks in Camiguin. Camiguin’s only problem is that it belongs to Region X – Northern Mindanao. Maybe local government should request to be attached to Region VII – Central Visayas. This could keep our island out of the Mindanao focus.

And a last remark: This article had been written with 100% solar energy because we suffer again a maintenance brown-out from 08:00 a.m. to 05:++ this afternoon! Despite the cloudy sky, our solar panels produce enough energy to maintain vital functions of our house. Think solar now!


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1 Response

  1. Dr Roy Gordon says:

    A friend of mine from Siargao Island has just messaged me on Facebook and said XXX was the ring leader.. Apparently he is a local drug dealer dealing Shabu and this fight was over drugs not surfing

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