Philippine journalists should be extremely cautious when reporting about bomb incidents.
Last night, ABS-CBN channel 2's coverage of the Zamboanga blast was not entirely pleasing. When Karen Davila, one of the anchors of the daily primetime evening TV newscast asked the Zamboanga mayor details of what really transpired, she was asking the wrong person. Obviously, the mayor had scant knowledge of the incident and the one responsible for such investigation should be the ground police commander. Besides, the investigation was still on-going when Davila conducted the interview. How then will anybody for that particular matter, positively identify the perpetuator, even the type of bomb used?
In crisis situations like that, obviously, authorities had no clue as to who was responsible since the investigation is still on-going. It is, however, up to the authorities to conduct a formal press conference at least two hours after the incident, to avoid speculations.
That's forgivable. But look at the news article posted by ABS-CBN website about the incident.
Read this link and you'll see that the news network already said that a suicide bomber was behind the blast.
The update on the blast also referred to a suicide bomber being responsible for the explosion which killed two people and injured 22 others.
First, this is not an official result of the investigation. The suicide bomber angle was just lifted from third party sources by ABS-CBN.
What is the effect of such news on the state of the anti-terrorism drive of the government?
First, if this is true, that there was a suicide bomber who killed himself along with others, this is the first incident where a Filipino extremist was involved in a suicide bomb attack. If this is true, then, this is a very dangerous sign.
In the past, there was no such incidence of Filipino extremists being used as suicide bombers. Fact is, several studies have shown that Filipinos are least likely to become suicide bombers. Even the most pious of all Filipino Muslim militants would not resort to suicide bombing.
This incident should raise alarm bells already within the intelligence community for one simple fact---this indicates that the level of extremism had reached maturation already. That there is a high probability now that Jemaah Islamiyah adherents have already successfully trained and indoctrinated several Filipinos to become their suicide bombers. In such an eventuality, the Philippines faces a dark and sinister security threat.
Despite the use of modern and sophisticated intelligence equipment, the Philippines is still susceptible and vulnerable to extremist attacks. The territory is vast and underprotected, therefore, vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
In my next entry, I will write about this in an extensive manner.