Puerto’s recent explosion

Terrorism-related or not?

"This tricycle was just a few meters from the explosion. It belonged to one of the two persons injured." retirednoway

This tricycle was just a few meters from the explosion. It belonged to one of the two persons injured.

Four days ago, Palawan was hit with two explosions. The first blast occurred in El Nido, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, and the second occurred in Puerto.

MANILA, Philippines — Local conflict was eyed as the likely motive behind the apparently coordinated blasts that struck two of Palawan’s prime vacation spots on Maundy Thursday, which authorities described as meant more to “alarm than to harm.”

Interior Secretary Robredo said the improvised explosives used in the incidents in Puerto Princesa City and the resort town of El Nido were of a similar nature, bolstering speculation that they were connected.

“Based on initial findings, the device used in El Nido and Puerto Princesa are similar, meant to ‘alarm than to harm.’ There was no shrapnel, etc.,” Robredo said.

Retrieved in the El Nido resort were the apparent remnants of the explosive, including the metal case of a cellular phone, the positiveand negative terminals and metal case of a nine-volt Eveready battery, a leg wire, and pink-and-yellow plastic bags that were used as container.

At least three people were reported wounded in the blasts, none of them in critical danger.

The police said the first explosion occurred at 5:20 p.m. Thursday  in front of Entaula Beach Resort, Zone 3, Barangay Masagana in El Nido.

Minutes later, another explosion struck the North Highway in Puerto Royal Express Bus Station behind the Petron Gas Station, Barangay San Jose, Puerto Princesa City.

The injured in the first blast was identified as Aiza Gay Martinez Mallari, 23, a cook who was throwing garbage outside the resort when the explosion occurred.

Wounded in the second blast were Marivic Aria, 28, who suffered minor injuries on the left ankle, and Cenon Magdayo, 75, who suffered minor bruises on the forehead and ankle.

Online news article

Big impact on the provincial economy

Visitors to Palawan spend an average of 5,000 pesos (about US$115) a day per person. Tourism drives the economy of this province. We don’t want to scare our visitors away. The last time it happened–in 2001 when the Abu Sayyaf, an Al Qaeda-affiliate, abducted three Americans and several Filipinos–tourists vanished and the local economy withered until late-2003. During those two years, property values declined, business plans were shelved, and the economy stagnated.

So were the twin explosions related to terrorism or were they rooted in local conflict, as the mayor and Mr. Robredo claim? I decided to check it out:

"The bus terminal where the explosion took place is near the New Public Market (called "New Market" by the locals) of Puerto Princesa." retirednoway

The bus terminal where the explosion took place is near the New Public Market (called "New Market" by the locals) of Puerto Princesa.

"The bus terminal is near this intersection." retirednoway

The bus terminal is near this intersection.

"The bus terminal is behind this gasoline station." retirednoway

The bus terminal is behind this gasoline station.

"The bus terminal is behind this gasoline station. If it was a "serious" attack, it's easy to envision a shrapnel-filled explosion killing and maiming people at the bus terminal and then possibly igniting the fuel stored at this gas station." retirednoway

The bus terminal is behind this gasoline station. If it was a "serious" attack, it's easy to envision a shrapnel-filled explosion killing and maiming people at the bus terminal and then possibly igniting the fuel stored at this gas station. It would have had to be a significantly more powerful explosion though.

"The waiting shed for tricycle drivers. These men wait here for travelers who disembark from the buses. One of them, the dude wearing sunglasses, was present when the explosion occurred." retirednoway

The waiting shed for tricycle drivers. These men wait here for travelers who disembark from the buses. One of them, the dude wearing sunglasses, was present when the explosion occurred.

"These trikes are operated by the men in the waiting shed." retirednoway

These trikes are operated by the men in the waiting shed.

"Those trike drivers wait for passengers from buses like this." retirednoway

Those trike drivers wait for passengers from buses like this.

"The near-victim (the dude with sunglasses) reenacted the scene. He was walking towards the waiting shed when the explosion occurred. The explosive was on the ground and located at the lower-righthand corner of the photo. Fortunately for him, he was shielded from the primary force of the blast by several fish transport containers (called banyeras) and sacks of rice. He escaped with no injuries but he was covered with soot, he said. (He didn't want his face or identity revealed.)" retirednoway

The near-victim (the dude with sunglasses) reenacted the scene. He was walking towards the waiting shed when the explosion occurred. The explosive was on the ground and located at the lower-righthand corner of the photo. Fortunately for him, he was shielded from the primary force of the blast by several fish transport containers (called banyeras) and sacks of rice. He escaped with no injuries but he was covered with soot, he said. (He didn't want his face or identity revealed.)

"The men patched up the small crater left by the explosion. The shallow crater's diameter didn't exceed 30 centimeters (12 inches)." retirednoway

Close-up of the patched-up small crater left by the explosion. The shallow crater's diameter didn't exceed 30 centimeters (12 inches).

"Close-up of the destroyed tricycle that belonged to one of the injured victims (the 75-year old man)." retirednoway

Close-up of the destroyed tricycle that belonged to one of the injured victims (the 75-year old man). The injured man was standing beside his tricycle. The injured woman was behind the lucky eyewitness but unlike him, she wasn't lucky enough to have been shielded from the primary force of the explosion.

"Another view of the destroyed tricycle. According to the eyewitness, the clothes of the 75-year old man were practically ripped off of him and he was covered in soot." retirednoway

Another view of the destroyed tricycle. According to the eyewitness, the clothes of the 75-year old man were practically ripped off of him and he was covered in soot.

"Clearly, the explosive did not contain shrapnel so it seems that the authorities are correct in concluding that this blast was not meant to kill but to frighten. I agree, it doesn't seem to be terrorism-related." retirednoway

Clearly, the explosive did not contain shrapnel so it seems that the authorities are correct in concluding that this blast was not meant to kill but to frighten. I agree, it doesn't seem to be terrorism-related.

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