September 2, 2016: Bombing at Davao market in the Philippines

On this day in 2016, Islamist extremists were the most likely ones behind a bombing in Davao City, Philippines in which at least 15 were killed.

Some terrorist campaigns seem to be intractable, no matter what approach is adopted.

DAVAO CITY, PHILIPPINES — The east Asian nation of the Philippines has had an interesting history, to say the least. A former Spanish colony, it was taken over by the Americans from the very late 1800s to the end of WWII (with a brief occupation by the Japanese in the 1940s). It as only in 1946 that it became its own nation really.

It has since had a presidential system but I would imagine that for most of us its recent history has been dominated by the Marcos dynasty. Ferdinand Marcos held power for two decades, helped by his decision to declare marital law in 1972: that state of affairs lasted until 1981, although not much really changed when it was dropped. And then there was his wife Imelda – remember the shoes??

The country is a little more democratic but remains desperately poor. One of that nation’s chief exports seems to be domestic workers, estimated at ten million worldwide: I do know that there are also hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who have emigrated to Canada (my eldest daughter’s best friend is one).

Another plague with a longstanding presence in the Philippines is terrorism. There have been Islamist terrorist groups on the islands – particularly in the far south – for decades. The main one, called the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), is aligned with Al Qaeda (AQ).

On this day in 2016

On this day in 2016, a bomb exploded outside the Marco Polo hotel in Davao City, killing 15 and wounding another 70. ASG claimed the attack at first but there were soon doubts as to the real perpetrator (drug lords were cited as a possibility). Months later police arrested members of the Maute Group, a terrorist outfit seeking to align itself with Islamic State (ISIS).

Let us pray for the victims of this unfortunate incident, especially for those who died. Let us pray for those who are being treated in different hospitals and pray for their quick recovery.

Vice mayor of Davao City

The bomb targeted the home city of Rodrigo Duterte, the current president who acts a lot like Marcos did. This of course does not justify an act of terrorism. It does underscore, however, that between terrorism and bad governance the Philippines cannot seem to catch a break.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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