US travel warning up for Palaro venue

As different games for high school and elementary students kicked off today, heavily-armed military and police personnel, some accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs, are conspicuously roaming the streets.

Mayor Fernando Miguel said the city’s police force has been augmented by the regional office to secure athletes, coaches, games officials and the general public.

He added they also created a “people’s brigade” to supplement government security personnel in watching the locality round-the-clock until it ends on April 28.

Small entrepreneurs from the across the country also trooped here to make money out of the participants and spectators watching the country’s biggest sporting event.

Trade display, located at the Rizal Park just a stone’s throw away from the main playing venue and games nerve center, includes marble products from Romblon, fancy jewelries, ornamental plants, souvenir items, and processed food and drink products.

Hotels and inns are virtually fully booked starting late last week, with drivers of tricycles, the main mode of transportation in the city, enjoying significant increase in income.

But at least two big department stores are giving them competition by offering free shuttle services in select pick-up points to the stores.

Vendors of food, soft drinks, mineral water and fresh fruit shakes, are also earning well because of the intense heat.

Health workers are on standby for possible victims of heat stroke and game-related injuries, officials said.

Early Sunday night, the city’s skyline burst with colors and explosion as fireworks dominated the sky for about 20 minutes.

Some 8,000 athletes gathered here for the Palaro. This, despite an advisory late last week from the United States embassy about an impending major terrorist attack in southern Philippines.

“The embassy has information that a terrorist group may be planning to carry out bombing attacks in (Southwestern) Mindanao over the next several days,” the travel notice said.

Asking Americans to carefully consider plans of visiting Mindanao, the advisory also warned them against going to Koronadal.

“Recent credible information indicates terrorists may be in the advanced stage of attack planning,” it said. “The attacks may be imminent and could occur at any time, anywhere in Mindanao.”

In 2003, this city was rocked by separate bombings that killed a dozen persons and injured more than others.