Was It Terrorism or Extortion?
by Rev. Berlie G. Yap
Soon as any bombing happens in La Bella, right away the immediate presumption of most locals, as to its motive, is terrorism and usually perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who are operating here in Zamboanga City. However, last Friday’s incident, September 18, could not be terrorism. Acting City Mayor, Vice-Mayor Cesar Iturralde, gave an initial statement, that probably, the reason behind the atrocity was extortion against the bus company, where the very bomb exploded inside to one of its common carriers.
Similar to Hollywood films, on a Western State outlaw stories, here in Zamboanga City we also have some underworld of real criminals who run their stealth organizations by extorting money from well-off companies and businessmen. Maybe they get their inspirations from America’s Mafiazzo or Japan’s Yakuzas.
Beside of the ASG, there are more than a dozen of splintered groups all over in La Bella, which compete each other to milk the rich ground of our City. These are indolent individuals who draw their guts from the arms they carry and the bluff which their groups could make against the City or to any people and individuals they want to extract money illegally.
One died and, at least, another 30 individuals were hurt after the blast, while the subject bus was literally dismembered, due to the impact of the bomb. Personal testimonies were accounted by Baranggay eMedia, which also responded right away to the incident, the victims said that the bus just had newly arrived from its regular route in Labuan and the West Coast.
The bomb was, accordingly, placed at the fourth seat of the vehicle. A young lady, 20-year old, was seated along with that suspicious baggage unaware of the subsequent event. This same young lady was the fatally, that presumably because of the impact and the shrapnel she drew, due to her close proximity of the explosion which caused her instantaneous death. In fact she was declared as dead on arrival (DOA) by the physicians in Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC).
Right away, our local officials proceeded to the different hospitals, which attended the injured, to be able to identify what are those urgent needs which their capacities and offices could offer. Seen, as were around within minutes after the explosion, were the two congressmen of La Bella and other City Councilors. Nice to see that in any calamity which may hit or disturb Zamboanga City, political rivalries are forgotten, and all our politicians could do is to help each other attend their constituents without selfishness.
Historically, atrocities do always happen, as somehow like an unwanted prelude, before the Fiesta Pilar. Thus, our authorities do heighten the alert status of the City soon as at the entry of the month September. That one last Friday, probably, was already anticipated by our police force, though it just had slipped from their intelligence, or maybe, worse could have happened if visibilities of our uniformed men are not widespread in the heart of the City and amongst crowds.
Yet, despite of the force of our law enforcers everywhere these days, an IED was still able to get through their tight grip. Hence, every individual in La Bella must help each other to secure our very safety. Any time a suspicious person or things can be seen anywhere should be reported right away to the nearest police station or to the baranggay officials who are closer to the threat, to be able to address it without delays. This common knowledge must not be ignored.
Gradually, devotees from the different places of Region IX are now starting to flock in Zamboanga City, either to light candles at the Fort or to join the celebration of the town’s occasion. Fiesta Pilar will be yet on October 12, nonetheless, La Bella’s mode of festivities, traditionally, does start early as at the entry of September.
In fact, the chain of celebrations will continue on until the end of December; that because of the All Saints Day, Christmas Day and the turn of the New Year’s Eve. Every Zamboangueño understands these facts, whether he lives here or outside/overseas. This is one of the very reasons which made Zamboanga City unique in the country.
Thus, to hear bloodshed or a bomb explosion saddens the hearts of the Zamboangueño people. If you also remember, the worst of our experience was that thing two years ago, when the siege happened here in La Bella, by the MNLF Group of the Misuari faction. Yet, despite of all of these negativities, we are bound to continue life on, undeterred of our focus to live un-spoiled with our blessings and through, our own way of understanding, peace in our hearts and in our unique beloved City of Zamboanga.
“Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright.” (Ps. 20:7-8, NIV)
Courtesy of Baranggay eMedia