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-   -   Security issues in Zamboanga (https://www.expatforum.com/expats/philippines-expat-forum/655458-security-issues-zamboanga.html)

jon1 24th January 2015 02:51 AM

Security issues in Zamboanga
 
We all hear about the US State Department warnings about travel to Mindanao and especially from Zamboanga del Sur south throughout the Sulu Archipelago and places within the ARMM.

From my personal experience and pinoy friends info, the situation there is reaching critical. I would not recommend anyone to visit there unless it was extenuating circumstances and then I would make it a same day visit only. There was a bombing across from the main bus terminal yesterday (UPDATE) 1 killed, 36 wounded in Zamboanga blast | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com resulting in 1 death 36+ wounded.


In Sept 2013 there was a seige in Zamboanga City Zamboanga City crisis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia involving MNLF that crippled a muslim neighborhood and caused a lot of destruction of residential areas. Since that time frame, people with money have moved away.

I was there in December 2013 for my wedding and my friends were telling me about how things were getting worse. Kidnappings were on the rise. We had a close call as there was an attempted kidnapping at the resort we stayed in about 7 hours after we had left. When I got that word I vowed to not go back unless there was a significant improvement in the situation there.

Then the RP signed a peace deal with MILF in March 2014 which will lead to another vote for townships/cities to decide if they wish to join the ARMM. Philippines and Muslim rebel group sign historic peace deal | Al Jazeera America

In june 2014 the US announced that the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P) would be withdrawn before 2015. That has now come about and the JSOTF-P is no more. US downsizes joint anti-terror task force with PHL | News | GMA News Online

In August 2014 I did a 2 day visit to Zamboanga City for a funeral. I felt that 2 days was just enough time for me to accomplish my business and get out before I could be tracked down for an attempted kidnapping. My friends told me that the situation was even more dire. There were daily random shootings, weekly kidnappings and people were being muscled out of their properties. I hired two people for security (known trusted individuals with M16s) and tinted window vehicles.

The RP Government has submitted a draft for Bangsamoro Basic Law Bangsamoro Basic Law | GMA News Online to Congress for review. Once approved it will result in a vote by the towns/cities on whether or not they want to be a part of the ARMM.

I am of the mindset that the rebels will continue to up the violence until there is a vote and even after should things not go to their liking. Since 2011, the terrorist groups have been trying to align themselves under the ISIS group and unite. Philippine terrorists have been documented fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Also, Arabs have been sighted in Mindanao recruiting and facilitating Filipinos transport to Syria and Iraq. Recently, a bomb making expert (Basit Usman) has resurfaced in Mindanao after previously being reported to have being killed by a drone attack in Afghanistan.

ISIS Supporters On The Move In The Philippines | International Terrorism Study Project

During all of this time, except for the seige and yesterday's bombing, there has been a news blackout on the happenings there. I am sad to here about all of this after having been associated with JSOTF-P from the very beginning in Jan 2002-2004 and again as a contractor from 2007-2011. I think that the realignment of the US forces to help deter China's aggression in the Spratley's and China Sea lanes is yet another failure of US Foreign Policy.

Did the US achieve all of their goals with JSOTF-P? I do not think so. If the situation reverts back to the way it was or worse than pre-2002 we will have our answer.

Let me further qualify my assessment. I also have travelled extensively throughout Mindanao (Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis, CDO, Agusan Del Norte, Compostela, Bukidnon and Davao) without security in the past (2007-2011) and with security to Jolo, Basilan, Cotabato and Tawi Tawi. I feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to see and experience such a huge swath of Mindanao. It could be a true paradise if only the security situation was under control.

M.C.A. 24th January 2015 06:30 AM

Jon it's just common sense, I would never want to mess with Mindanao but apparently there's those that don't agree. Before I left for Luzon (active duty on leave) I was required to read the State Departments warnings and also the military had recent inside stories that I also was required to leave and fill out my special request chit, anyway these stories were brutal, service members going there on vacation with wife and kids, and they end up robbed and murdered in a home invasion (service member and his father in-law only) and this was done out of spite and envy, neither one of these men tried to fight these guys were just slaughtered.

I've read several other posts and news articles on home invasions and murder, usually by knife or gun and it's not one robber it's gang, neighbors do nothing, they won't get involved your on your own.

Jim151 24th January 2015 10:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jon1 (Post 6255978)
We all hear about the US State Department warnings about travel to Mindanao and especially from Zamboanga del Sur south throughout the Sulu Archipelago and places within the ARMM.

From my personal experience and pinoy friends info, the situation there is reaching critical. I would not recommend anyone to visit there unless it was extenuating circumstances and then I would make it a same day visit only. There was a bombing across from the main bus terminal yesterday (UPDATE) 1 killed, 36 wounded in Zamboanga blast | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com resulting in 1 death 36+ wounded.


In Sept 2013 there was a seige in Zamboanga City Zamboanga City crisis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia involving MNLF that crippled a muslim neighborhood and caused a lot of destruction of residential areas. Since that time frame, people with money have moved away.

I was there in December 2013 for my wedding and my friends were telling me about how things were getting worse. Kidnappings were on the rise. We had a close call as there was an attempted kidnapping at the resort we stayed in about 7 hours after we had left. When I got that word I vowed to not go back unless there was a significant improvement in the situation there.

Then the RP signed a peace deal with MILF in March 2014 which will lead to another vote for townships/cities to decide if they wish to join the ARMM. Philippines and Muslim rebel group sign historic peace deal | Al Jazeera America

In june 2014 the US announced that the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P) would be withdrawn before 2015. That has now come about and the JSOTF-P is no more. US downsizes joint anti-terror task force with PHL | News | GMA News Online

In August 2014 I did a 2 day visit to Zamboanga City for a funeral. I felt that 2 days was just enough time for me to accomplish my business and get out before I could be tracked down for an attempted kidnapping. My friends told me that the situation was even more dire. There were daily random shootings, weekly kidnappings and people were being muscled out of their properties. I hired two people for security (known trusted individuals with M16s) and tinted window vehicles.

The RP Government has submitted a draft for Bangsamoro Basic Law Bangsamoro Basic Law | GMA News Online to Congress for review. Once approved it will result in a vote by the towns/cities on whether or not they want to be a part of the ARMM.

I am of the mindset that the rebels will continue to up the violence until there is a vote and even after should things not go to their liking. Since 2011, the terrorist groups have been trying to align themselves under the ISIS group and unite. Philippine terrorists have been documented fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Also, Arabs have been sighted in Mindanao recruiting and facilitating Filipinos transport to Syria and Iraq. Recently, a bomb making expert (Basit Usman) has resurfaced in Mindanao after previously being reported to have being killed by a drone attack in Afghanistan.

ISIS Supporters On The Move In The Philippines | International Terrorism Study Project

During all of this time, except for the seige and yesterday's bombing, there has been a news blackout on the happenings there. I am sad to here about all of this after having been associated with JSOTF-P from the very beginning in Jan 2002-2004 and again as a contractor from 2007-2011. I think that the realignment of the US forces to help deter China's aggression in the Spratley's and China Sea lanes is yet another failure of US Foreign Policy.

Did the US achieve all of their goals with JSOTF-P? I do not think so. If the situation reverts back to the way it was or worse than pre-2002 we will have our answer.

Let me further qualify my assessment. I also have travelled extensively throughout Mindanao (Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis, CDO, Agusan Del Norte, Compostela, Bukidnon and Davao) without security in the past (2007-2011) and with security to Jolo, Basilan, Cotabato and Tawi Tawi. I feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to see and experience such a huge swath of Mindanao. It could be a true paradise if only the security situation was under control.

It is my understanding that Davao is relatively safe. Is this not true?

jon1 25th January 2015 01:19 AM

Yes Davao has always been the safest due to the Durterte famly rule...

When I started this thread I wanted everyone to understand that I was referring to the Zamboanga peninsula and the ARMM...

Cebu Citizen 26th January 2015 10:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jon1 (Post 6255978)
We all hear about the US State Department warnings about travel to Mindanao and especially from Zamboanga del Sur south throughout the Sulu Archipelago and places within the ARMM.

From my personal experience and pinoy friends info, the situation there is reaching critical. I would not recommend anyone to visit there unless it was extenuating circumstances and then I would make it a same day visit only. There was a bombing across from the main bus terminal yesterday (UPDATE) 1 killed, 36 wounded in Zamboanga blast | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com resulting in 1 death 36+ wounded.


In Sept 2013 there was a seige in Zamboanga City Zamboanga City crisis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia involving MNLF that crippled a muslim neighborhood and caused a lot of destruction of residential areas. Since that time frame, people with money have moved away.

I was there in December 2013 for my wedding and my friends were telling me about how things were getting worse. Kidnappings were on the rise. We had a close call as there was an attempted kidnapping at the resort we stayed in about 7 hours after we had left. When I got that word I vowed to not go back unless there was a significant improvement in the situation there.

Then the RP signed a peace deal with MILF in March 2014 which will lead to another vote for townships/cities to decide if they wish to join the ARMM. Philippines and Muslim rebel group sign historic peace deal | Al Jazeera America

In june 2014 the US announced that the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P) would be withdrawn before 2015. That has now come about and the JSOTF-P is no more. US downsizes joint anti-terror task force with PHL | News | GMA News Online

In August 2014 I did a 2 day visit to Zamboanga City for a funeral. I felt that 2 days was just enough time for me to accomplish my business and get out before I could be tracked down for an attempted kidnapping. My friends told me that the situation was even more dire. There were daily random shootings, weekly kidnappings and people were being muscled out of their properties. I hired two people for security (known trusted individuals with M16s) and tinted window vehicles.

The RP Government has submitted a draft for Bangsamoro Basic Law Bangsamoro Basic Law | GMA News Online to Congress for review. Once approved it will result in a vote by the towns/cities on whether or not they want to be a part of the ARMM.

I am of the mindset that the rebels will continue to up the violence until there is a vote and even after should things not go to their liking. Since 2011, the terrorist groups have been trying to align themselves under the ISIS group and unite. Philippine terrorists have been documented fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Also, Arabs have been sighted in Mindanao recruiting and facilitating Filipinos transport to Syria and Iraq. Recently, a bomb making expert (Basit Usman) has resurfaced in Mindanao after previously being reported to have being killed by a drone attack in Afghanistan.

ISIS Supporters On The Move In The Philippines | International Terrorism Study Project

During all of this time, except for the seige and yesterday's bombing, there has been a news blackout on the happenings there. I am sad to here about all of this after having been associated with JSOTF-P from the very beginning in Jan 2002-2004 and again as a contractor from 2007-2011. I think that the realignment of the US forces to help deter China's aggression in the Spratley's and China Sea lanes is yet another failure of US Foreign Policy.

Did the US achieve all of their goals with JSOTF-P? I do not think so. If the situation reverts back to the way it was or worse than pre-2002 we will have our answer.

Let me further qualify my assessment. I also have travelled extensively throughout Mindanao (Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis, CDO, Agusan Del Norte, Compostela, Bukidnon and Davao) without security in the past (2007-2011) and with security to Jolo, Basilan, Cotabato and Tawi Tawi. I feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to see and experience such a huge swath of Mindanao. It could be a true paradise if only the security situation was under control.

My Filipina Wife and I were very near Zamboanga City on January 12th, 2015 for a family funeral and I was only there for a very short one day. After we had left, some of my wife's family reported back that I had already been identified as a foreigner target and they were watching for me to return to the family home. Fortunately, I did not return there the following day and was already back in Manila but the fact that several very reliable family members told us the same information by Facebook and text messages and mobile phone calls, gave me an eerie feeling of just how close I may have come to being a statistic.

It did not take the local militants very long to notice that a foreigner was in the area and they were already watching for an opportunity if I had returned to the family home the following day. I count my blessings and I will not be returning there any time soon...

jon1 26th January 2015 12:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cebu Citizen (Post 6269817)
My Filipina Wife and I were very near Zamboanga City on January 12th, 2015 for a family funeral and I was only there for a very short one day. After we had left, some of my wife's family reported back that I had already been identified as a foreigner target and they were watching for me to return to the family home. Fortunately, I did not return there the following day and was already back in Manila but the fact that several very reliable family members told us the same information by Facebook and text messages and mobile phone calls, gave me an eerie feeling of just how close I may have come to being a statistic.

It did not take the local militants very long to notice that a foreigner was in the area and they were already watching for an opportunity if I had returned to the family home the following day. I count my blessings and I will not be returning there any time soon...

I am guessing that you were on the outskirts where you would be very very noticeable for sure. It gets riskier as you go west (towards Recodo/Ayala) or East/North towards Ipil outside of the city limits. I have a house in a secure compound within the city that I can access without being seen (tinted window vehicle driven into the compound and not get out of the vehicle until once inside).

The methodology is they grab you and run for the shore. Get you on a boat and take you to one of the outlying islands (Tictabon or Sacol Island for example) ultimately ending up in Basilan or Jolo or somewheres in between. Another thing to note is that it is usually not the terrorists abducting you but rather a corrupt policeman, military or criminal that will "sell" you to the ASG or whoever.

I am glad you made out safe without incident.


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