Typhoon Haiyan - locally named Yolanda - struck the Philippines on 8 November. The main areas affected have been Leyte and Eastern Samar, although other areas have also suffered some damage. The major population centres of Manila and Cebu City were not badly affected. There has been severe damage in the worst-hit regions. Travel and communications infrastructure have been severely disrupted. It is difficult to travel to or contact these areas and the disruption is expected to continue a number of days at least. Irish citizens in the affected regions should continue to follow the advice of local emergency authorities and should please let their family and friends know they are OK as there has been considerable media coverage of this typhoon
A major 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Bohol on 15 October. Irish citizens affected by the earthquake are advised to contact the Embassy of Ireland in Singapore at +65 6238 7616.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to The Philippines. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
There is a high incidence of violent crime, including gun crime, in the Philippines and a high incidence of street crime and robbery, especially in Manila.
There is a high threat from terrorism. There is a threat from kidnapping in the Philippines, particularly in the south.
Typhoons are common during the monsoon season (July to November). Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are also possible.
We advise against all travel to South West Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao.
Prior to entry to the Philippines, you should be able to present proof of your onward journey, and should ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months after your intended departure. Failure to comply with these provisions is likely to result in you being refused entry to the Philippines.
Safety and Security
There is a high incidence of violent crime, including gun crime, and a high incidence of street crime and robbery, especially in Manila.
There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Such places could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, places of worship etc.
There is a threat from kidnapping in the Philippines, particularly in the south. Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and dive boats and sites in the Sulu Sea.
The Philippine government is taking action against the terrorist and kidnapping threat. It has tightened security in Metro Manila and other areas considered at high risk, including airports and seaports.
You should take precautions to ensure your personal safety. Be vigilant: avoid large demonstrations or gatherings, seek advice from local contacts, avoid travel off the beaten track and always leave travel plans with friends, colleagues or relatives.
Safety standards on taxis, buses and boats can be low.
Local Laws and Customs
You should not get involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe.
You must show evidence of your identity if it is requested by, for example, the police. You should carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and your arrival card to avoid losing the original, which should be kept in a safe place.
Philippine law on paedophile activity is severe, and strictly enforced. A child is defined in Philippine law as a person under the age of 18. Entrapment may also occur where strangers with children have befriended single male tourists, with allegations then made in an attempt to extort money.
Any foreign national planning to get involved in recruiting Filipinos for employment overseas must make sure that they have done their due diligence and consulted local lawyers to ensure that they are fully compliant with local legislation and are suitably licensed. The laws relating to illegal recruitment are stringent and carry non-bailable charges – foreign nationals have been known to spend more than two years in city jails on remand whilst their cases are processed.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Typhoons hit the Philippines at the rate of approximately twenty per year. The monsoon season in the Philippines normally runs from July to November. Most typhoons occur during this period but they can affect the country at any time.
During the monsoon season you should exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities. Tropical depressions and cyclones typically bring strong winds and rain to the Visayas and Luzon regions, and particular care should be taken when travelling to Northern Luzon and the Bicol, Samar and Leyte regions. During the monsoon season, heavy rains can cause flooding and landslides may occur.
Volcanoes are widespread Philippines, any of which can erupt without warning. Sudden steam and ash explosions may occur at any time.
The capacity of the Philippines emergency and rescue services and local authorities to deal with large natural disasters is limited. You are advised to exercise caution, check news reports and follow local advice before travelling to volcanic areas. You are also advised to avoid volcanic areas during and immediately after heavy rainfall when there is increased risk of lahar flows. More information can be found on the PHIVOLCS website.
The Philippines is in an earthquake zone. The last significant earthquake to affect the Philippines was in 1990 when over 1,100 people were killed in Central Luzon.
Additional Country Info
Health and medical services vary in quality across the Philippines, and may not meet the standards of care in Europe. Although sufficient in major cities, medical care is limited in more remote areas. Medical treatment can be very expensive.
Dengue fever and malaria are widespread in the Philippines. You are advised to take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, and to take advice from your GP on prophylaxis.
Water-borne diseases, including typhoid and cholera, are endemic. You should use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
There is a risk of rabies throughout the Philippines.
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS