The Manila bombing you didn’t hear about: a boots on the ground report

January 27, 2011
Undisclosed location

Moscow erupted in pandemonium this week as a bombing attack at the city’s busiest airport claimed the lives of at least 40 people on Monday. Nobody seemed to notice the bombing in Manilla, Philippines only hours later.

Two people were killed on Tuesday when an 81mm mortar was remotely detonated on board a bus in the Makati business district of Manila. Initial police findings suggest that attackers boarded the bus, placed the device under a passenger seat, got off the bus, and detonated it via mobile phone.

The Philippines is home to several Islamic separatist groups who are engaged in an insurgency to establish their own independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines. Tim Staermose, the latest, greatest addition to our growing team here at Sovereign Man, lives in Manila and was on the ground during the event.

In his words:

“I’m fine, all is well here. Apparently two perps planted a bomb on one of the busy commuter buses that ply the route from the main thoroughfare in Manila’s CBD, Ayala Avenue, in Makati, to the densely populated northern suburbs where many of the city’s office workers commute from.

They apparently alighted from the bus and shortly after triggered an explosive device still on the bus, by means of a phone call to a cell phone set to the “vibrate” function, which acted as the detonator.

The poor passengers who’d sat down on the seats that the attackers vacated died instantly in the blast. And more than a dozen others were killed or maimed.

The usual suspects, “Muslim extremists” from the restive southern island of Mindanao were quickly fingered as the likely culprits, though as yet no one has taken responsibility for the bomb, and there’s no conclusive evidence linking such groups to the attack.

I can also report that, encouragingly, life is again going on as normal. People here are used to this sort of thing happening once in a blue moon, for better or worse. And they quickly realize there’s no use fretting about it, or letting it get in the way of life.

Think about it: while what happened is terrible, consider that each day on the roads of the Philippine capital more people usually die in regular traffic accidents. Heck, in a city this size — up to 20 million people according to some statistics — there are doubtless more folks who die from slipping in the shower.

But already the government is stepping forward to show that it is able to “do something” about terrorism. The first proposal is to make each and every person who buys a mobile phone SIM chip register it and go through identity checks… almost as if you’re buying a firearm.

Many countries already enforce this cumbersome and annoying regulation. For example, every time I go back to Australia I find myself having to spend 20 minutes on the phone to someone in a call centre (ironically nearly always in the Philippines) trying to prove who I am and get approved to register a new SIM.

[Simon’s note: When I was in South Africa recently, I noticed that they had recently unveiled a similar rule there under the auspices of ‘fighting crime.’]

How many bombs do you suppose this legislation has prevented from going off? Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think such bureaucratic procedures are a total waste of time and have little effect on the tactics of ‘terrorist organizations’ and separatist groups.

People here keep everything in perspective. I passed lots of folks out enjoying the cool winter evening (which means mid-20s Celsius here) at restaurants, cafes, and bars with live music. And lots of joggers, and exercisers in the Ayala Triangle Park which sits in the middle of the CBD, blocks from where the attack occurred.

Life goes on… the mainstream media can get everyone worked up into a frenzy, but frankly there are more important things to focus on than worrying about a bomb going off every couple of years.”

Simon again. Needless to say, I’m in total agreement with Tim. Such attacks are unfortunate, but statistically speaking we have a better chance of being struck by lightening… and I think we’re much better off focusing on the things which actually matter to ourselves and our families: economic security, health, and freedom.

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