Safety and security in Cebu

Safety and security in Cebu

International students often hesitate to study in Cebu due to safety concerns. Is Cebu safe for foreigners?

While Cebu may not be as safe as some other key cities in other countries, with proper crisis management, you can still live securely while studying English here. Let's explore the safety of Cebu Island by looking at global crime statistics, the types of common crimes, and how effective crisis management can help ensure a safe and secure stay.

Cebu safety in numbers

Security in the Philippines as seen in global crime statistics
Using crime index ranking data from "NUMBEO" , a comprehensive database that tracks crime rates, environmental pollution, and prices in over 6000 cities worldwide, here is a comparison of the Philippines with major study abroad destinations, neighboring Southeast Asian countries, and Japan. This table is based on interim data from 2019 and reflects crime index statistics for 123 countries globally.

The statistics show the crime index calculated using NUMBEO's method, where a higher crime index means a lower safety index. While this figure might not directly impact real-life crime prevention or perfectly represent the actual crime situation, it's still valuable to examine it comprehensively and objectively.

A surprising revelation emerges when comparing neighboring countries like Malaysia and Thailand, both significant study abroad destinations, along with countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, and Fiji – all ranking higher in crime index than the Philippines. Notably, at the lower end of the spectrum (indicating a lower crime index than the Philippines) are countries such as New Zealand, Malta (the 80th most popular study abroad destination), and Japan, boasting the lowest crime index. The statistical data underscores that the crime index in the Philippines is unexpectedly low.

According to 2013 data, the Philippines, once among the top 30 countries in terms of instability, underwent significant security measures following the ascent of President Duterte in 2016. This has been a pivotal factor contributing to the stability of public order in recent years, with the economic growth of the Philippines being attributed in part to these countermeasures. While the Philippines may not boast the same safety levels as other countries, global statistical data suggests that concerns about its security, fueled by its image, may be somewhat unfounded. It is becoming increasingly evident that the country is moving towards a more stable environment.

Risk management

Ensuring Safety in the Philippines
When it comes to the security of Cebu Island, it is noteworthy that the region remains relatively stable, thanks to the proactive security measures implemented by the government amid rapid economic development. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that minor offenses such as pickpocketing, robbery, and snatching can still pose a threat, much like in any other country.

For international students, it is imperative not to overlook the importance of taking basic precautions as foreigners residing in a new environment. By keeping these precautions in mind, you can significantly mitigate the risk of encountering any untoward incidents or accidents during your stay.

Ikasama card fraud

One day, while strolling through a shopping mall, a stranger—a Filipino whom I had never met—approached me. Engaging in conversation with an unusual air of familiarity, he casually mentioned, "An acquaintance is heading to Japan." As our chat progressed and we got to know each other a bit, I found myself unexpectedly invited to dinner, which eventually led to an impromptu card game.

Initially, the setup appeared harmless, crafted to ensure the host's victory. However, as the game unfolded, I found myself on the losing end, facing substantial financial consequences. The fraudsters, employing a well-known scam prevalent in Southeast Asian countries, skillfully coerce victims into paying with cash or even charging expensive items to their credit cards.

This classic scheme has persisted for an extended period, preying on unsuspecting individuals. It serves as a stark reminder to exercise caution and refrain from accepting invitations from unfamiliar faces. Vigilance is key; avoiding unfamiliar company reduces the risk of becoming entangled in criminal activities. Be wary and think twice before following the lead of someone you don't know.


One of the significant challenges faced by international students is the prevalent issue of pickpocketing. Wallets and mobile phones, in particular, are frequently targeted and stolen. Smartphones, due to their high local resale value, become easy prey for these thieves. To safeguard your belongings, it is essential to exercise caution when venturing into crowded areas. Carry your valuables securely and keep them close to your person.

When heading out to places with a high concentration of people, consider using a bag that allows you to maintain constant visual contact with it, such as a shoulder bag. This proactive approach can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to pickpocketing incidents.

Traffic Accident and Injuries

In Cebu, riding on the back of a motorcycle is a common and economical mode of transportation. While it offers convenience, it also comes with an increased risk of accidents. Unfortunately, in the event of an accident, the driver is not held accountable for any damages. Considering the potential dangers, it might be prudent to explore alternative transportation options, such as taxis. Taxis in Cebu are reasonably priced, with the initial fare starting at just Php40. This minimal cost can ensure a safer and more secure journey compared to the inherent risks associated with motorcycle travel.
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