Julia Campbell, an American peace corps volunteer teacher went misisng on April 8 after going hiking alone in the mountains near the famous Banaue rice terraces.

The latest news is that her body has been found.

The area is quite rugged, but is a tourist area.

This area of Luzon is far from the south where battles against Islamic insurgents has made recent headlines. However, the communist NPA is active in Luzon, but has not been active recently in that area of the mountains, and local police deny any NPA involvement in her disappearance.

The first reports suggested she fell off a cliff, but the Philippine Star reports her body was “buried” with only the feet showing, leading one to ask if there was a slide of rocks or if another person was involved. The trails are very primitive, and there have been unusual dry season rains recently, and Ms Campbell was reported only to be wearing sandals.

It should be noted that the area of Luzon where she disappeared is no where near the trouble spot in the south. There are kidnappings and murders in Luzon, usually related to the NPA or “extrajudicial killings” in revenge, but Americans are rarely affected. Kidnapping by criminals or the NPA do occur, but usually of known individuals on the streets, not of passing strangers, since kidnappings are for profit. Usually the local cops would know about such kidnapping, especially if it went wrong and a woman was murdered. Local gossip goes quickly via extended family groups in the rural Philippines. However, the local police might not give such information to reporters this early in the investigation.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician working in the rural Philippines.

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