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Security And Behavior In Life Threatening Events

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Living In A Critical Area

This is an area where:
Life threatening events have taken place recently, are currently taking place, or have the potential to develop.

  1. These events can either be natural:
    • Typhoon.
    • Heavy Rain.
    • Earthquake.
    • Volcanic Eruption.
    • Tsunami.

    We will write about those in the future.

  2. Or they can be the result of the actions of:
    • Terrorist groups.
    • Bandits.
    • Criminal Groups Imitating Terrorists.

This is the area we will focus on in this post.

Video grab of Abu Sayyaf rebels

This picture is said to be of Abu Sayyaf bandits, this group has been accused of just being bandits for hire, but recently has made pronouncements declaring itself loyal to the international terror group ISIS. It is just one of a number of groups active in the Philippines, made up of Islamic extremists, political dissidents and bandits in it for whatever they can get from both the locals and foreigners.

Your Security

    Depending on the history of life threatening events in your area, and the likelihood of such events in the future, the following officials may need to know you exist.


  1. It is the oldest and smallest unit of government in the Philippines. Predating the Barrio system imposed by the Spanish.
    1. Drop in at the barangay hall next time you are passing:
      • Introduce yourself.
      • Tell them where you live and who you are living with.
      • Are you permanent or just visiting.
      • Show your passport or ACR card.
    2. You might like to obtain a Barangay Clearance if you are intending to get a postpaid phone, internet, electricity, water in the next 6 months.
    3. Expect to have your picture taken, often with barangay officials, not part of the requirements but definitely part of the process.
    4. You may well get a personal visit from the Barangay Captain and/or the councillor responsible for your part of the Barangay, in the following days.

    The Municipality.

  2. Comprises a number of barangay, and is where the mayor’s office, police station, fire department, post office and government departs are located.
    1. Find the Mayor’s office next time you are in the municipality:
      • Introduce yourself.
      • Tell them where you live and who you are living with.
      • Are you permanent or just visiting.
      • Show your passport or ACR card.
    2. Expect to have your picture taken, often with municipal officials, not part of the requirements but definitely part of the process.
    3. You may well get a personal visit from the Mayor and/or the councillor responsible for your district, in the following days.

    The Philippines National Police.

  3. Is now the only armed civilian police force in the Philippines. It is tasked with upholding the rule of law. One of its more recent tasks has been to monitor expats in the local community and to provide advice when security concerns warrant it.
    1. Depending on other duties, you can expect a visit from a PNP officer, when you come to their attention.
    2. If PNP officers approach you:
      • Ask for official identification, including the phone number of their superior.
      • Ring that person and confirm not only the ID but the person’s task.
      • If legitimate, then cooperate with them, fully.
        1. Answer their questions, even if you provided the same information previously. Remember separate computer system may not yet be linked or accessible.
        2. They may ask you:
          • Not to leave your home.
          • To leave your home.
          • Not to go to certain areas.
          • To only go out if you are accompanied.
          • Not to go out at certain times.
          • To report anything suspicious. Over report rather than under report
        3. Heed their advice. Failure to do so will compromise their ability to ensure your safety.

    The Military.

  4. You will see these young men when and if insurgents are seen in your location, or in the unlikely event that fighting starts where you live.
    1. You are unlikely to need to contact the military, who will have you on their radar, through intelligence briefings with local agencies, as soon as they are deployed.
      • However if you see a detachment with its officer:
        1. Do introduce yourself
        2. Give your location.
      • A friend used to deliver hamburgers and pizza to where a unit was barracked near to us for several months. I am not sure that their rations were adequate but they devoured that treat like they hadn’t been fed for a week.
      • If you are told to do something by an army unit, do not hesitate. It will not be a an issue for discussion.

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    Security Of Your Spouse And Family


    Your Spouse or children can become alternative targets especially for ransom demands.
    If authorities believe that there is a risk of this, they may ask you to take precautions to avoid or ameliorate the risk:

    1. For your spouse it could include:
      • Restricting where she travels, locally.
      • Curtailing her movements on certain days and/or certain times.
      • Ensuring she never travels alone.
    2. For your children it could include:
      • Accompanying children to school and meeting them after classes.
      • Curtailing extra curricula activities.
      • Restricting visits to friends.
      • Ensuring your child is accompanied at all times by an adult

    Authorities have no wish to disrupt your lives only to enhance your family’s security.

Additional Security Measures


  1. Know your neighbors.
  2. Interact with them.
  3. Be involved in your community.
  4. Listen to concerns they express.

These people are your first defense against a targeted terrorist or bandit attack.

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Should You Be Taken By Bandits Or Terrorists

The chances of you being kidnapped in the Philippines is very small, but if it happens to you, it’s going to be very big. So what do you do to increase your chances of survival?

EXSAHostage victims

Somewhat surprisingly the PNP have no definitive guide to surviving an abduction in the Philippines so I did a search and found a raft of articles by using the phrase “How To Survive A Kidnapping”

In my opinion the best article can be found on the WikiHow Site. Mainly because it is illustrated which adds a dimension to comprehension.
It has the following tips for your survival in this situation.



  1. The longer you remain alive, the better your chances of surviving the ordeal.
  2. Concentrate on surviving the first few hours of an abduction, then the first day, then days, then a week, then weeks and so on.

Long Term Abductions

EXSALong term captivity

  1. Any abduction can become a long one, so right from the start:
    • Try to keep track of time. Keeping track of time can help you establish routines that will enable you to maintain your dignity.
    • Try to discern patterns.
    • Think about what you’ll do when you get back home. Hold conversations in your head with friends and loved ones.
    • It’s important to challenge your mind so you can remain sane, but also so you can think rationally about escape. Do math problems, think of puzzles, try to recite poems you know; do whatever you can to keep yourself occupied and mentally sharp.
    • Stay physically active. It can be difficult to remain in shape in captivity, especially if you’re restrained, but it’s important to do so if possible. Being in good physical condition can aid in your escape and keep you in good spirits during your captivity. Find ways to exercise, even if it’s just doing jumping jacks, walking on the spot, push-ups or even pushing your hands together or stretching.
    • Ask for small favors to make your captivity more bearable. If you’re settled in for a long captivity, start small and infrequently, a razor or a toothbrush is a good start.



  1. Communication has the ability to change your captors view of you:
    • Be composed and engage the kidnappers in small talk, etc. Retain your dignity at all times, this will cause the criminals to see you as a person rather than a thing.
    • Be a good listener, you may gain important information.
    • Try to ascertain why you were abducted as the answer will partly inform any escape attempts you make.
    • Forget the tough-guy Hollywood acts they’ve seen and avoid antagonizing criminals. Better to act the part of the “slave” rather than to go into a Dirty Harry routine.
    • Do not tell the criminals their demands can’t be met. Telling them that may make them panic and kill you.
    • Avoid insulting your abductor or talking about potentially sensitive subjects.
    • If you require regular medication tell the abductors early, if their intention is to trade you they will want to keep you well.

You should consciously work to combat a bonding phenomenon called the Stockholm Syndrome, which can occur under certain conditions.

Observe and keep track of your captors:


What Activities Are Your Captors Involved In While They Are Holding You?

  1. What they call themselves?
  2. What are their names?
  3. How many of them there are?
  4. Are they armed?
    • If so with what?
  5. Who is in charge?
  6. Is there anyone who is obviously bottom of the pecking order?
  7. What is their demeanor?
    • Confident?
    • Scared?
    • Ideology driven?
  8. Are they well prepared?
  9. What other activity can you observe, hear, or overhear?

Can You Give Any Clues As To Route Taken To Your Initial And Or Current Destinatiion:

  1. Time traveled?
  2. Terrain traveled?
  3. Turns made?
  4. Stops and their duration?
  5. Variations in speed?
  6. Traffic noises?
  7. Other noises:
    • Road noise?
    • Animals?
    • Water?
    • Celebrations?

Observations About The Place Where You Are Being Kept Captive, Even If You Are Being Regularly Moved:

  1. How long in a particular place? (If moved)
  2. What are the exits?
    • Doors?
      1. How many?
      2. Where?
    • Windows?
      1. How many?
      2. Where?
    • Stairs?
      1. Up or down?
  3. Are there cameras in place?
    • Where?
    • How many?
  4. What telecommunication devices are in operation?
    • Pagers?
      1. How many?
      2. Who has?
      3. Where is it kept on each person who has one?
    • Intercom?
      1. Where is it situated?
    • Walkie talkies?
      1. How many?
      2. Who has?
      3. Where is it kept on each person who has one?
    • Cellphones in use?
      1. How many?
      2. Who has?
      3. Where is it kept on each person who has one?
    • Are there locks on the doors?
      1. Which ones function
      2. Are they utilised?
        1. When?
  5. What are the potential barricades such as heavy bookcases or couches that they or you could use?

Take personal stock.

  1. Have you sustained a wound or injury?
    • How Serious is it?
    • Are you receiving treatment?
    • Is the treatment competent?
    • Is it working?
  2. Are you restrained?
    • With what?
    • What is restrained? Arms, legs, torso, neck?
    • Are you tied to anything. Chair, bed, wall?
  3. Have they gagged you?
    • With what?
  4. Are you incapacitated in any other way?
  5. What is your freedom of movement?

This information could assist in your escape or the kidnapper’s apprehension.

The best times to contemplate escape.


  1. During the first few minutes of an abduction, this is also the most dangerous.
  2. Once the abduction is completed and the abductors feel in control, if the victim does not cause problems for several hours it can make the kidnappers careless and provide escape opportunities.
  3. At Any time the hostage takers start making threats on the lives of the hostages or acting in a bizarre manner, you should start thinking about ways to escape.

Situations when you should not attempt to escape:


  1. Unless you are in danger of being killed immediately, do not attempt to overpower an abductor or group of them. It usually fails and is a major cause of death among victims.
  2. If you are unfit or have limited mobility, unless your life is in imminent danger, stay put.

Group Abductions


  1. If you are part of a group that is abducted, try not to stand out from the group. In these cases being “grey” can be advantageous.
  2. Try to communicate with your fellow captives as much as possible, but not to openly.
  3. If you look out for each other and have others to talk to, your captivity will be easier to handle.
  4. You may also be able to plan an effective escape together.


EXSAhostage Rescue

  1. Try to keep as far as possible from the members of the terrorist group. This will help keep you from “being there” if a terrorist vents his anger and will also keep you out of the line of fire if the authorities come in shooting or have a sniper end the situation.
  2. If a rescue is attempted, hit the floor unless the authorities instruct you to do otherwise. Don’t try to pick up a criminal’s weapon. Doing so will get you killed; teams trained to rescue hostages have to operate by reflex. Anti-terrorist teams are trained to shoot anyone with a weapon without trying to otherwise identify them. You’ll be mistaken for one of the criminals and will undoubtedly be shot if you’re standing there with a weapon.

I hope these guidelines about security and behavior in life threatening events are never needed, but knowing what to do can be the difference between survival and death if they are.

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