By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine Embassy in France on Monday issued safety guidelines for Filipinos traveling to that country following an increase of break-ins, robberies, and pickpocketing particularly in the capital city of Paris.
At the same time, the Embassy urged Filipinos to be extra vigilant in the light of the string of terror incidents in the past three years, the latest of which was on May 12 when a 21-year-old Chechnia-born French Muslim, armed with a knife, killed one pedestrian and injured several others near the opera house Palais Garnier, in Paris. The attacker was subsequently shot by the police.
Here are the Philippine Embassy safety guidelines that Filipinos are asked to follow while traveling in France:
- Always secure your personal belongings such as bags, wallets, phones and other personal items when visiting tourist spots, walking around, and riding public transportations.
- Be wary of pickpockets. They are rampant at metro stations, trains, and even in shopping areas.
- Keep passport and identity card in separate areas of your bag, so that you lessen the risk of losing both identity documents.
- Theft may also occur in hotels and apartments. Make sure that your briefcases, bags and other valuables are secure. Be wary of the so-called “hotel rats,” scam artists who pretend to be hotel guests or tourists and who can swipe baggage in hotel lobbies, or book rooms with fake names and break in rooms to steal valuables.
- Do not carry a lot of cash. Most stores accept cards. Should you use your card, cover your hand discretely when typing the pin.
- Keep your bags out of sight when inside the vehicles. Robberies may sometimes occur during traffic jams.
- Be alert and vigilant when visiting different areas in France. Make sure to follow the instructions of police and military personnel in case of any incident.
- Be updated with the news. Refrain from going to areas that are declared to be unsafe or that have terrorism threat.
In case an urgent assistance is needed, Filipinos are advised to call the Embassy’s 24/7 emergency hotline at +33 6 20 59 25 15 or may visit the Philippine Embassy at 45 rue de Ranelagh4 Hameau de Boulainvilliers75016 Paris, France.