Zamboanga City. As suddenly as they disappeared some two years ago, the terrorist bombs were back in Zamboanga City last Thursday, August 16. The first blast ripped a part of the rear of a provincial late-night bus as it drove towards the suburban arrival terminal, resulting in the injury of nine passengers. Then a second bomb exploded an hour later in front of a mosque located a few kilometers away from the first blast.

The timing – and bomb forensics later showed – of the two incidents are clearly related to each other and hence can only be the work of terrorists. The police promptly blamed the usual suspect Abu Sayyaf, saying it had prior intelligence information about the group’s new terror plan in the city. But despite the info, the police failed to stop the attacks. So what does that say about the competence, capability of our police?

The inglorious peace and order condition in Asia’s Latin City is worthy of any theory not reserved to terrorism alone. The bombings only climaxed a series of gun-shooting incidents in public, day in and out, during the preceding weeks and months. The running toll is displayed on a billboard of the Universidad the Zamboanga – whose president’s street-side murder has become a mere police statistic as it remains unsolved ever since it happened in April – facing City Hall. Local government officials have foisted many excuses except to claim responsibility for failing to curb these atrocities.

Surely our government officials can do, if not talk, better. They have more than enough resources in hand to implement crime-fighting measures, especially by utilizing communication technology. It can use the millions of pesos in intelligence and security funds to reward and protect witnesses, so that killers are intercepted before or quickly after they gun down their victims by the fast and immediate text or voice call of witnesses or informants. And, of course, the need to deploy security video cameras to monitor the key streets and areas of the city.

In all this bloodbath in the city, the dead are not the only and worst victims.

The living suffer more. . . Children suddenly deprived of their father, people who can’t find badly-needed jobs because investors run or shun away from our killing-field kind of community, residents who cower in their houses too afraid to go out and enjoy life, and government and police officials who will leave behind them disreputable legacies of crime, social chaos and incompetence during their term in office. (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)