Terrorism In The Philippines
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
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.
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.