Terrorism-related or not?
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.
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: