Terror In The Philippines

Acts of Terrorism in the Philippines is on the minds of people living in the Philippines.

It does happen here.   Bombings and  kidnappings are the two main methods used by terrorist in the Philippines.   Bombs on buses are the most frequent method used,

In the months preceding my arrival in the Philippines, there were frequent reports of bombs in the malls of Manila.   It concerned me more that it probably should have.   I’ve heard of no major bombings of malls since I started  my life as an expat in the Philippines.

However, I did read of a couple of cases of bombs left  outside of smaller establishments in Mindanao.

Sometimes I read of grenades being used, usually this happens in Mindanao as  well.   But I  did read of one grenade being used not far from my home.   It wasn’t a terrorist action, rather political leaders feuding.   That grenade went off in a corn field.   Allegedly as an attempted  assassin made his escape.

Election time brings fears of violence but this is  usually limited to the political bosses.   In 2009, there was a now infamous slaughter of  over 50 people on their way to register their candidate for a race.   Many reporters  where killed along with family members of the candidate.  It is sometimes referred to as the Mindanao Massacre.

Abu Sayyaf operates in southern Mindanao.   They wish to  establish an  Iranian style  Islamic  state within that area  of the

Zamboanga Peninsula in  The Philippines
Zamboanga Peninsula in The Philippines

Philippines.   The group is thought to have links to Al Qaeda.   The group is extremely dangerous.  While it is one of the smallest groups of insurgents, it is also one of the strongest.   It operates mostly in the Zamboanga and Sulu Archipelago region of Mindanao.

Don’t go to Sulu without armed  escort.   If you wish to be  kidnapped, this is the place to go.

Abu Sayyaf raises fund internally via kidnappings and extortion.   They often behead victims for maximum shock value.

Red cross  officials were kidnapped and held for an extended period of time  while visiting this area.  They had been offered military escort but refused saying they wish to remain impartial.

Filipino teachers have been the target of kidnappings in  this area.   You are not safe in this area.    Yes, expats go.  They will tell you it is safe because nothing has happened to them.

From what I can tell, It is an absolutely beautiful area.   I’d love to visit  but I am just not that crazy.

In 2010 the Armed  Forces of The Philippines (AFP) attacked in the Sulu region killing  many of the  members of Abu Sayyaf .   One general promised to push them out of the Philippines by the end of 2010.   It is my impression that the terrorist group has been weakened by the assaults of the AFP but it is still there.

Another dangerous area is Cotabato province a bit further south of Zamboanga.   There have been bombs and grenades and military conflict in this area.  Churches and buses are sometimes targeted in this area.

cotabato province
Cotabato Province in Mindanao, Philippines

It is a stronghold of  Moro  Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).   Another rebel group that wishes to establish a Muslim region within the Philippines.   The  Philippine government has entered talks.   Some consider this to be a terrorist group, others  do  not.  Some within the group, do seem to  be  involved in acts  of  kidnapping and bombings.    The leadership and sometimes the Philippine government refers  to them as renegade members of MILF.

This is another area of  the Philippines that is beautiful.   Once again, I would avoid this area.

General Santos City lies  just south of  this province.    I would visit there  but be very careful.  I also would only fly into it.  I would not be willing to travel by bus through any part of Mindanao.  I know others  do.   I wouldn’t.

Many potential expats will ask me about kidnappings in the Philippines.  It can happen but more than 70% of kidnappings  in the Philippines are  perpetrated on other Filipino.   Most kidnapping for ransom groups do not want the publicity that kidnapping a foreigner tends to bring.   Terrorist groups would, of course, want as  much publicity as they can get.

Avoid making enemies here and you’ll greatly reduce the possibility you’re being kidnapped.  I often then of a young woman  that was kidnapped in Manila shortly after I arrived here.  It wasn’t terrorism.   It was a group of thugs that broke into an American’s home, stole his things and decided to take his daughter with them.   They took him too but later let him  go.  It appeared they did this so he could get the cash to pay the ransom and get his daughter back.  I never saw that confirmed  but he did get his daughter  back.

I Feel Safer In The Philippines

Reading all this could scare a potential expat.    Reading what other expats say about the Philippines could heighten those fears.   Many of those saying how dangerous the Philippines are, are not expats.   They might have visited here but they don’t live  here.

I feel far safer in the Philippines than I did in Memphis, Tn.   I was often fearful in Memphis, especially at night.    I am rarely fearful here.   There is less violent crime in the Philippines than there is in the USA.

Acts of Terror In The Philippines

I  will begin to post a journal of terrorist acts within the Philippines.  I will update this page as  I learn of them.

In  2004 a bomb was placed on a  ferry that  left Manila with around 900 people on board.   Some say it had  more than 1000 on board.  Abu Sayyaf was blamed for this act of terror.

Terror Update 01/25/2010 — A  bomb  blast  killed five in Makati.    At this time, Philippine authorities believe it to be an act of terror.  The act was probably initiated by a Mindanao based group.