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Terrorism and Violence in the Philippines

Foreigners often shy away from visiting the Philippines because of the crimes and terrorist acts often featured in the news. There are often travel advisories by Embassies of other countries such as the U.S., Japan, and Australia warning their citizens to refrain from visiting the Philippines.

The news however, can be misleading. Despite the various crimes that plague the Nation, the Philippines is still a safe country to visit in my opinion. First of all, hate crimes and racial discrimination is almost non-existent in the Philippines. There are also no drive-by shootings and no teens carrying semi-automatic weapons blasting their classmates.

Most muggers and thieves won’t even scratch you. They’ll just point a knife or a gun at you, and as long as you don’t fight back and just give what they want, they’ll just quickly run off. There are also Fraternity Gangs here, but Gang wars and Gang violence are often confined between rival Gangs and Gang members, they don’t often target people who are not Gang Members. While the U.S. have Gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood where you have to kill to be a member, most Gangs here often offer membership by just paying money, engaging in sexual acts (for female gang members), or the usual hazing (Gang Members beating you up). There are people who get killed or badly hurt for the most ridiculous of reasons. Some often stem from a quarrel over politics, religion, or even when someone insults a favorite local basketball idol. Just recently, the Frank Sinatra song “My Way” was banned from Karaoke bars since singing the song badly resulted in many brawls and even death. Most Filipinos are often nice and quiet people, but some tend to get rowdy or raucous and sometimes violent when they had a few. And as I said before, most criminal elements shy away from victimizing tourists. Those who does target tourists are often con artists trying to sell you fake property or embezzling money.

Tourists being killed or badly hurt because of crimes are rare in the Philippines. There are however the news of Tourists and Foreign Nationals being abducted by terrorist groups, such as the case of the American Burnhams abducted by Philippine Terrorist Group Abu Sayaff. Remember however, that the Terrorist Groups who does kidnap foreigners and tourists are doing it for the money. They don’t have any political or idealistic motive for kidnapping. To this point, they are not different from the other Kidnap for Ransom Gangs. They don’t kidnap or hurt Foreign nationals because they see them as “Infidels” or to demand anything else other than money. There are a number of suicide bombings and bomb explosions that happen every now and then, but the motive is primarily just to terrorize and cause panic, often to demand money. Bombings or attacks that target a specific nationality or group is very rare. Most bombings are often targeted at companies and commercial establishments to force the owners pay protection money. The CPP-NPA group often demand “Revolutionary Tax” not only from corporations, but also from civilians.

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