Here in the Philippines, a lot of the terror reports make more headlines in the foreign papers than here. So last week’s bus bomb in Davao province that killed ten made headlines and then disappeared from the foreign news.

Curious? Well, not really. You see, if a bomb can’t be used by the MSM in the US to prove the disaster of Bush’s war on terror (which actually has gone quite well here in the Philippines) you probably won’t read about it.

And the dirty little secret about the bus bomb is that it may not be terror related. It’s probably just the NPA and business as usual.

The Philippine Star has this editorial, sardonically noting that blackmail like kidnapping is just business as usual:

The NPA has perfected the art of extortion, using young members as collectors and concocting euphemisms such as “revolutionary taxes” and “permit to campaign fees” to describe the payments. Businessmen who have dared to say no have found their farms, trucks, buses and telecommunications towers bombed or burned down. The extortion and attacks have driven away investments and held back development in the countryside. NPA extortion also undermines every electoral exercise.

It’s not just the NPA that engages in extortion. Along with kidnapping for ransom, extortion has also been a fund-raising activity of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, although these days the MILF leadership publicly disowns any member caught engaging in such acts.

Translation: The NPA are the local communists. A lot of the “extrajudicial” killings are against them and their supporters. However, they are now closer to Al Capone than Mao, and make money from kidnappings and kickbacks. If you want to run a business or campaign in their area, then paying them off is part of the cost of doing business. And if you don’t pay, then your bus will be burnt, or your telephone tower bombed, or you might end up dead.

But the bus bombing is more disturbing, since ten people were killed in one of the bombs. The NPA kills people, but tends to avoid killing innocent bystanders, since if you make the wrong people mad, they will tell the police where you’re hiding…
This report says it was from a gang that was trying to extort money from the bus owners. That makes sense.
What makes the police nervous is not that a bus was set on fire, but that a bomb, perhaps a sophisticated one, was used.

You see, Alqaeda trained members of the J. I. group from Indonesia had entered the Philippines last year, and were disseminating  information on how to make sophisticated bombs to spread terror.

Since the MILF is now seeking peace (thanks to a carrot/stick approach), the Jemaah Islamiyah is trying to increase terror, in hopes that excess government retaliation will derail the peace process. A half dozen recent bombings in the southern Philippines are the result.
So although the bus bombings look merely like a “business as usual” extortion attempt that went awry, the PNP has asked the US FBI to help in analyzing the bomb that killed ten people in the latest bus bombing.

If Al qaeda bomb techniques get added to the usual kidnapping of businessmen, or hand granade/flying assassin and night time arson scenerios, things may start getting hectic.

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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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