Philippines: The Illusion Persists


November 2, 2009: Over the weekend, several incidents in the south left five Moslem rebels and one soldier dead. The Moslem separatist rebels are, more and more, becoming a banditry problem, not a political rebellion with any real chance of success. Many of the rebels themselves, especially the rank-and-file, have come to see it this way. Most of the leadership resists. Since they control the PR and public diplomacy, the illusion persists that the Islamic rebellion is still a going concern.

October 31, 2009: The kidnappers of a foreign priest, released a video of their captive, to show that he was alive. The kidnappers are demanding a $2 million ransom. On Sulu, a clash with Abu Sayyaf left one rebel dead and three soldiers wounded.

October 28, 2009: The government and the MILF have signed an agreement to avoid shooting at civilians, or their property (including schools, hospitals, religious structures and the like). This is meant to make future clashes kinder and gentler, while making anyone who violates the agreement a bigger villain in the media.

October 27, 2009: On Jolo island, Abu Sayyaf rebels threw a grenade at a Catholic church, causing no damage or casualties. Meanwhile, near the capital, police found and disabled three terrorist bombs.

October 25, 2009: In the south, NPA rebels released, without payment of ransom, the remaining five (of seven) government environmental workers they had kidnapped on the 21st. The leftist rebels apparently concluded that this kidnapping was bad PR, and they were only going to get a lot of police heat, and no ransom, if they continued holding the men. Meanwhile, near the capital, an NPA death squad shot dead an off duty soldier, as part of a revenge campaign (over the death of the daughter of an NPA leader).

October 24, 2009:  In the north, soldiers discovered and captured (after a short fire fight) an NPA camp. Weapons and documents were seized and the fleeing rebels were being pursued.

October 23, 2009: On Sulu, Abu Sayyaf bombed another bridge, but did not damage it enough to halt traffic. This is the latest of several Abu Sayyaf bomb attacks on bridges and communications targets. Most of these attacks have failed, because the bombs were not powerful enough, or were not placed effectively. It's unclear what the reason is for this new bombing strategy. It's believed part of a strategy that seeks to reduce civilian casualties, while destroying more public property.


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