How to Survive Terrorism in the Philippines: A Security Guideline.


In accordance with the 1987 Philippine Constitution:

“Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” so with that being said… Whatever is written over here is my right, so sit back and relax.

With the upcoming presidency of Mr. Duterte, we hope that this issue can finally be stopped, if not, given solution so innocent casualties will not happen anymore.

kidnap philippines

Source: National Geographic Channel: kidnapped in the Philippines

Another Civil Problem: Terrorism in the Philippines.

Just watched a couple of news regarding the mamasapano massacre or even the abu sayaff case ( searched it in google) and thought to myself… “How can the Philippine Government just let the event go?” I believe that everybody in the Philippines should have a right to defend themselves, but with the recent Gun laws that makes it VERY VERY VERY HARD to even get or EVEN RENEW a licensed firearm, then the Philippines will just be a haven for crimes such as kidnapping, terrorism and the like. Talk about doing a mass production of unlicensed firearms, Why? because if you can’t renew, then it is determined as a loose firearm (Facepalm!).

Make no mistake, this is not another political article, on the contrary this will tackle the practice of vigilance regardless whether it is against terrorists or just your COMMON militia trying to get on to you. Kidnapping, Insurgency, even Robbery… All these crimes are very common in the Philippines especially for Expats living in the Philippines. So here’s a quick guideline to ensure safety if not prevention against these radicals that pose threat to everybody.

1. Prevent being a high profile target especially if you are an expat (foreigner), because they will take you as hostage for ransom. Even from the Airport, ensure your utmost responsibility is safety. It is quite rare but some kidnappers that do prospecting sometimes start at the airport. So keep those passports close to you, don’t talk to strangers that try to be “too familiar” with you i.e. “out-of-nowhere questions” like “I saw you before…. or Have we met before?…”. These possible threat could either be male or female so do not let your guard down. Vigilance is your defense.

2. Do not embellish where you came from as this may be a cause for them to kidnap you. Its just as it says… do not elaborate, or do tell where you came from. The last thing you want to tell people especially if you are hiding the fact that you are a high profile person, is to tell them that you came from a rich country. Well, not exactly rich, but often times Filipinos think you are rich even if you just came from Africa let alone UK or the US. This will be a basis for ignorant kidnappers to trade you for some cold money even though you are broke. Remember, they don’t believe a foreigner or an expat or even a Filipino is NOT RICH if he/she came from a different country.

3. If it is obvious that you are a foreigner, follow the culture and don’t stand out. So now you are in the country. As the saying goes; “When in Rome, Wear as the Romans does.” So, no wearing lavish pimp like clothes, wear jewelries that looks expensive, or heck, even being too fashionable is a sin here. Just kindly wear trousers or plain pants with a Polo shirt or just a T-shirt and then a cap.. This will make you stand out less and be more in-tuned with the crowd. If you are in a Urban scene, these rules act as a passive camouflage enough to protect you from unwanted attention. Keep Note: Those Rolex? are baits for robbers and snatchers too!

4. Stay away from remote places where a foreigner or a High Profile Person will be a target. Stay away from towns with high poverty rate as these places might spur informants for such perpetrators. Do not walk to alleys with dark and or with crowded shanties. These places attract criminals like flies on cow manure. If you are going to stay on a hotel, ensure that is is reputable and with CCTV as these hotels provide not just comfort but a 24/7 security. For transportation, for city navigation stick with the most common vehicle such as jeeps,buses, or trains. I can’t guarantee Taxis as these vehicles is sometimes the place where “robbery” happens. Don’t believe me? Their modus is usually Chloroform sprayed at the Aircon or the “Instant Hold-Up robbery” which you will not see coming… so try as much as possible not to use taxis if you are a foreigner/expat. For provincial places, stick with the transportation people often trust, as these vehicles are usually manned by neighborhood friends alike, meaning if “trouble” happens, you will or they will know. I am not going to say that being in the remote parts of the Philippines is Bad. Well, it will hurt tourism but the reality is that these remote parts are the haven for crimes. Not because they are far but because the grasp of the government in this places are quite loose. For example Samar, Palawan, Mindanao Area, Cebu, Davao, etc… Do you research and inform yourself of the places. Just remember that if they are on the edge of the Philippines especially at the Southern Parts, odds are it will be a troubled and problematic place for high profile people (expats or foreigners or rich Filipinos). An example of this scenario happened to the Burnham Couple while they are on Vacation and Gregg Williams from the National Geographic episode “Kidnapped in the Philippines”.

5. If you will stay for good in the Philippines, stay at the CENTER, don’t go to the south. I understand the feeling of foreigners and expats to stay to a remote place. To find solace from the harsh reality of business and hectic struggle for a better life. However, If your idea of refinement or retirement means you have to go to the southern part of the Philippines, you might as well just put a placard that says “I am a foreigner that fetch a high price” and be done with it. So as a fair warning, STAY at the central regions of the Philippines. Like it or not, southern people (not going to name people with a religious sect) DO NOT LIKE FOREIGNERS!. Not all, but most of them.

6. If you are being targeted (as you will know), be vigilant and stay alert. Do not be too complacent of the comfort in the Philippines, just remember, Filipinos usually think you are rich or VERY rich. Too often that not, they don’t think foreigners or expats as poor people. They think the reason you are here is due to retirement (means MONEY), business (bigger MONEY), or vacation (means Luxurious Rich Person). It is an exaggeration some might say, but not so with the average kidnappers though. So, if you are targeted as a prospective money cow for these bandits, stick to the protocol of “CAT“- Call the Authorities, Alert your family/relatives, Transfer to a safe location.

7. Don’t neglect the power of being on the network of Good people or Authority. Being in a community provides a safer haven, more so with your closest friends. So ensure you have contacts with them on these times of emergency. If from your former country as an expat or foreigner, you think that Police are useless, over here in the Philippines though, they are better than no help at all. Sure they might require some form of payment, but hey, why wouldn’t they help a “rich” foreigner/expat like you? Now, I’m not saying you should rely on them, but if you have a good network of relatives or close friends with ties with the authority… THE BETTER. However, this could be a double edge sword as this might heighten the risk of you being discovered a high profile candidate. So take these tips with caution. Communication is the best policy.

8. Do not neglect rumors. With all seriousness in mind, if you hear a rumor about kidnappings or amber alerts, be very cautious. Rumors have a tendency to sprout from where it is nearby. So be very alert. If you hear those rumors, odds are they are nearby. Further more, do not investigate where it came from ACTIVELY (meaning do not ask directly from people involve in the rumor). Just listen very well, and transfer to a safer location while staying away from the path or locations where the rumor(s) of kidnapping happens.

9. Fortify your Home. If you hear rumors, information, or talks about such things happening. Do not just stand there idly listening, remember you must act in order to secure yourself. Arm your house with alarms that could signal intruder to the authority, if not, then a good ole’ chirp alarm might work to alert your family. Secure windows with barred metal/rods. Also, secure doors with double dead bolts as these devices prevent amateur breaching even with a shotgun master key. Have a radio equipment portable enough to be carried wherever you go, just make sure you ask nicely the frequency involved within the area of your residence (usually Baranggay or Villages or Towns in the Philippines have a frequency for emergency, but you have to ask for it). I myself use a Baofeng Portable radio with a 5 Km range. If you need one just email me: It costs a measly 10,000 Php. or 200$. ELECTRONICS HERE ARE EXPENSIVE.  Also, as a final preparation, get ready a Supply bag with medicines, food, and spare clothes for your abrupt escape to safety.

10. Defend yourself. I can’t emphasize too much about being physically fit. These criminals are fit to do their jobs. These criminals are dangerous, nervous and are trigger happy. They will not hesitate to hurt you, and if you hope they will not take you, odds are they will. So be fit, the Philippines is not just a paradise but also a challenging place. That’s the reality. If you are not ready to take responsibility for your own safety, then you have no chance that if such things happen, you will be taken away. As far as self defense weapon is concerned, here in the Philippines, knife law are a little blurry on the lines so if you need a knife just carry one that will fit in the pocket but with a blade not too long. Butterfly knives are considered illegal by police here so just be careful. Batons are good deterrent as they are portable especially the telescopic type. Traffic enforcers and Police use them alike. Guns for civilians are strict as far as law is concerned, so expats/foreigners are NOT allowed to own one. Period. I am not saying learn martial arts, seriously though even if I tell you, you will not do it. But being a Veteran myself, I learned that to know how to take down targets is a good skill to have. Still, prevention is the best defense one can have in the Philippines. Have you watched Taken? it might give you an idea how kidnappers work.

In Conclusion, the Philippines is a very nice place to stay… a paradise for those staying away from the hectic lifestyle of other countries. But remember, We need to know that beneath that sparkling paradise lies a deep shadow. And on those shadow, the underbelly of certain criminal activity festers like an infected wound- always growing. So be safe, be wise, and be vigilant.


For the Burnham Family: Our sincere condolences. We will never forget… ever.




National Geographic.


Philippine Inquirer



"Jay Penn" is a Financial Literacy Mentor and Investor who is best known for his Book "Polymath's Profit". He is also an expert in the field of Maritime, Engineering, and Emergency Medical from his past careers. Experienced with Security Analysis, Crisis Prevention, Contingency Planning, and Global Maritime Distress Safety System. Currently instructs Nautical Sciences and is an avid Researcher of Business and Economics. He is also recognized as the "Top Maritime Instructor" for 3 consecutive years in the Maritime Education from 2014; raising the standard for the Maritime Industry and Training.

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