ABSCBN reports of a gunfight between the Philippines police and security forces and some Abu Sayyaf bandits (aka terrorists) in the Manila suburb of Quezon City. This report quotes a police spokesman saying that the raid was not connected with the recent bombing that killed two Congressmen and two of their aids last week.

The more populist Inquirer however reports that the police had tips about an Abu Sayyaf group that was staying in a house in a Quezon City neighborhood, and when they raided the house, a firefight killed three of those there, and wounded several. However, the raid was against suspects in earlier bombings and kidnappings in the Manila and Mindanao areas. Given their history, the group was a prime suspect for placing the  cellphone controlled bomb that killed the congressmen.

Police Director Geary Barias, National Capital Region Police Office chief, identified one of the fatalities as Pakir Said alias Abu Jandal. One those arrested was identified as Ikram Indana, whose identification card stated he was an employee of the House of Representatives as legislative staff of the deputy speaker for Mindanao….

“We believe there is a link between the suspects to the blast because we recovered a motorcycle plate number and a deed of sale which matched those of the chassis number as shown by a barcode from the motorcycle,” Barias said.

So it sounds like the police got a tip (a large reward for the killers had been offered) and done their usual efficient job in getting their suspects.

Of course, this being the Philippines, no one believes anything said by any government official, so the leader of the House of Representatives (an opposition leader of the Arroyo government) will do his own parallel investigation not only of the bombing but of the security lapse that allowed the bomb to go undetected.  An earlier report said that the bomb was attached to the motorcycle of a cameraman for the Congress, but a later (ABSCBN) report says:

Police recovered an identification card inside the house. The name of Ikram L. Indama, as Legislative Staff Assistant 3 for Deputy Speaker for Mindanao, was written on the ID. A white T-shirt with the logo of the House which can be purchased at the souvenir shop of the lower house was also discovered.

Such things can be fake or stolen, so proves only that ID cards and license plates might be inadequate was of checking secure areas.

And American/ UK warnings about terrorist groups targeting Malls during the Christmas season merely is a routine danger every year in the Philippines, especially during the Christmas holiday season.

Even our town’s small “Mall” requires bag inspection and they will stop suspected people from entering the malls; this is perhaps why recent bombs have instead been placed in the open air markets and at fiestas in the Southern Philippines.

A terrorist bomb in the capital of the Philippines, however, is another problem, one that will discourage badly needed economic investment.

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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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