Abusive taxi drivers in the Philippines have gotten the attention of the United States, which warned its nationals Wednesday to take safeguards when riding taxicabs.

In its country-specific information on the Philippines updated Wednesday, the US State Department issued guidelines for its nationals when taking the taxi.

“Do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger and request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, please wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem," it said.

The problems addressed by the guidelines were similar to those encountered by Filipino commuters, especially during rush hour and peak seasons such as Christmas.

On the other hand, the State Department discouraged US citizens from taking other forms of public transportation, including the Light Rail Transit, jeepneys and buses.

It also urged US citizens to make sure the doors are locked and the windows rolled up when they are driving.

“All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and ‘jeepneys’ should be avoided for both safety and security reasons," it said.

Crime incidents in urban areas

The State Department said crime is a significant concern in urban areas, with kidnappings and violent assaults occurring in Metro Manila and elsewhere.

It urged US citizens to remain aware of their surroundings and exercise good judgment.

“Reports of confidence games, pickpocketing, internet scams, and credit/ATM card fraud are common. US citizens should be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend them, especially just after arrival in the country. It is best not to accept food, drink, or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate," it added.

According to the report, US visitors should also be vigilant when using credit and debit cards.

“One common form of credit/ATM card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card’s magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight. When using an ATM, be aware of your surroundings. Avoid ATM locations in dimly lit areas. Exercise caution when entering your ATM personal identification number (PIN) code, to prevent observance by others. Avoid ATM’s with unusual coverings attached to the card receiver," it added.

It also cited warnings from the Philippine Banking Association about criminals attaching electronic scanners to ATM card receivers, also designed to illicitly retrieve and record information from the credit/debit card’s magnetic strip.

“In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines," it said.

Meanwhile, the US reiterated its advice against a crowded Philippine road system with many drivers who are “undisciplined."

Also, it noted there have been nine major inter-island ferryboat accidents in the last two years — eight with significant loss of life.

“The safety record is such that US Government employees are advised not to take inter-island ferry boat services unless this is the only means of transportation available. US citizens are advised to avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport and to exercise caution in planning travel by inter-island ferryboats or other public conveyances," it said.

I just come back from a trip to San Fernando in La Union Province by bus.
I can tell you that I felt totally safe during the journey and there is 6 hours to trip from Manila to San Fernando.

Taxi drivers are the plague of Manila, mostly time they are trying to overprice the ride. They tell you that the price indicated is in US $ or the price is per passenger, you have to pay for the luggage …
In spring 2011 new fares for the over 26.000 taxis in Metro-Manila have been introduced. The new fares are: Flagfall = PHP 40 and every 300 meters or two minutes wait time = 3, 50 pesos only.
The yellow airport taxis are more expensive: Flagfall is PHP 70 including 500 meters. Then the counter raises by PHP 4, 00 every 300 meters.

Ferry could be dangerous if there is a storm around.
Have a look on the weather condition before planning travel by sea.

Traffic and driving system are terrible, at first glance. With a few experience it’s totally manageable.

If you intend to follow the trips advisory of you Foreign Affairs Department, stay at home or you will have headache looking for a safe country.

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