A day after the body of slain Peace Corps volunteer Judith Campbelll were flown back to the US, Philippine police caught and arrested her murderer who was hiding near Baguio City.
The local man,Â Juan Duntugan, admits to hitting her after she bumped into him on the trail, but says it was an accident, since he mistook her as a neighbor with whom he had a feud and he believed he was being attacked. He then hid her body when he realized his mistake.
Neighbors and police, however, doubt his story.
Locals were upset about the crime, since the Rice terraces Banaue are a famous tourist attraction and a crime such as this jepordizes their livelihood.
And those who worked with her were upset since she was a beloved teacher who was fluent in the local language and loved the Philippines.
Since the NPA had kidnapped a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1990′s, some Americans were worried that this had again occured. However, there is no active NPA (communists) in the area, and NPA sources denied they had anything to do with her disappearance.
However, the State Department last week had another warning about visiting the Philippines; this warning however was in the far south, where the Islamic seperatist groups have been making peace but the small remnants have been radicalized by Alqaeda linked groups from Indonesia and are threatening bomb attacks, including a bomb found by PNP police last week in Jolo, and beheading hostages when their ransom was not raised quickly enough but the police were on their tail.
Right now the main violence here in Luzon is related to the election, with politicians being shot by unknows, with other politicians having small armies of well armed bodyguards, the NPA shooting politicians who don’t pay fees to campaign, and other feuding that makes politics a blood sport in the Philippines.
However, unlike the terrorism of Alqaeda, tourists are probably not going to be targeted by hitmen, and the killing of tourists is quite rare, although theft is always a problem.
So come to the lovely Philippines, and ignore the headlines…but stay away from political rallies. You don’t want to get caught in the crossfire (Just joking).
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.Â