The big Philippine news is the bombing that killed two Philippine congressmen, including one from Basilan, and a driver.
The bomb was exploded via a remote control, and the police are exploring the area to find to find evidence if the bomb was a IED, meaning there is a worry about a terrorist connection.

But this being the Philippines, not all explosions are terrorism. The explosion of the Glorietta mall turned out to be sewer gas, and another explosion a few days ago was from dynamite used for illegal fishing. Even the “bus bombs” a couple months ago had more to do with blackmail of the bus company (i.e. money) than with terrorism (i.e. ideology) per se.blast
Assassination of politicians and of those seeking political office are alas not rare. However, the usual means of assassination is a drive by shooting. The fact that a bomb went off is more worrysome.

Indonesian terrorists who had been trained in bomb making have fled to the Philippines, and may have trained locals to make sophisticated bombs. And a few days ago, a Palestinian with possible terror ties was arrested for entering the Philippines illegally.

The fact that one of the dead Congressmen and the suspected target was from Basilan, an area where seperatist groups with terror ties are active, is especially suspicious.

And if the police are correct in saying this bomb was set off by a remote control, then the suspicion will fall on the Abu Sayyaf, the only group that has a history of this type of sophisticated bombs.

But of course, if one looks closer, the story gets murkier.

Politics in the provences of the Philippines resembles the murderous family feuds of the Italian renaissance rather than politics. And Akbar wasn’t just a simple congressman who represented an area, but a member of a large family who essentially runs much of Basilan.
Slain Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar and two of his wives literally ran the province.

His first wife, Jum, campaigned for and won the gubernatorial seat in the May 14 elections. His second wife, Cherrylyn, also won in the race for mayoralty of Isabela City, the province’s capital.

So was the bomb aimed at him by political enemies? A local official in Basilan immediately pointed fingers at Akbar’s political opponents.

(If you are a politician, you have control of the public monies, and right now there is a lot of aid money going to the south to be distributed to help poor people. Politicians can make sure their friends get such money, and of course a lot of the money disappears along the way. I am not accusing Akbar of this, but given the widespread corruption in the Philippines, political office is seen as a way to get rich, which makes assassination a common way to get rid of the opposition candidate. It also might have been a simple act of revenge between feuding political clans).

But Basilan is also a hot spot for Abu Sayyaf and Alqaeda related terrorists to hide out, and a spot where 14 Pinoy Marine were killed and several beheaded in an ambush searching for a priest kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf several months ago.

And Congressman Akbar?

Before his stint in politics, Akbar was widely believed to have strong ties with the bandit group Abu Sayyaf. Reports said that he was a commander of the group.

Being from Luzon, I am unable to know the “back story” why Akbar might have been killed, and I don’t know if his “political opponents” mean his death was merely an everyday political killing, or if he might have angered the local Abu Sayyaf, a group that does have the expertise to use this type of bomb to kill people.

A final complication in the story is that in the Philippines, there has been hundreds of of extrajudicial killings of people who had links with the NPA or were government opponents.

I predict by tomorrow someone will be accusing the government of assasination in this matter, not because I think the government is involved but because such accusations are routine here in the Philippines after any disaster.

However, “extrajudicial killings”, like politicial killings of one’s rivals, tend to be a bit more efficient and use drive by shooters. So my bet is that the bomb originated with the Abu Sayyaf group and has something to do with the political situation in Basilan.

As Drudge says….developing….

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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