Philippines: Rebels Follow The Money

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June 2,2008: The communist NPA is turning into a very effective criminal gang. They are specializing in extortion, which has become their major activity. Since having been branded an international terrorist organization after September 11, 2001, contributions from overseas leftists have declined, and this forced greater reliance on banditry to survive. As is usually the case with armed rebels who are fading, the NPA is evolving into an apolitical criminal organization. This is making the NPA harder to destroy. It's no longer about politics, but about making money with a gun. The NPA still has several thousand armed followers, organized into several dozen separate "gangs." No other criminal organization in the country is quite that large and well armed. Even Moslem rebels are realizing that you can do better economically if you use your weapons to pull off purely criminal acts (extortion and kidnapping being the most profitable), than to fight to Moslem autonomy or the establishment of a communist police state.

The army and national police are cracking down on corruption and sloppiness. A lot more readiness inspections, and investigations are taking place. Dozens of corrupt police are being fired each month and soldiers of all ranks are being charged with corruption or incompetence. For decades, reformers have pushed for this sort of thing, and not they have some momentum. No telling how long it will last, though. The corrupt practices have been around a long time and have many fans.

May 30, 2008: In the south, someone used explosives to bring down two electric transmission towers, cutting off power to a large area. No one took credit, and a criminal extortion scheme is suspected.

May 29, 2008: A bomb went off near the main gate of a U.S. facility (Edwin Andrews Air Base) in the south. Three civilians were killed and 17 wounded. No one took credit, and a criminal extortion scheme is suspected.

May 25, 2008: In Basilan, fighting broke out between marines, and Moslems (Abu Sayyaf and MILF). Increasingly, the local MILF are siding with the Abu Sayyaf terrorists, largely because Abu Sayyaf plays on the "us" (Moslems) versus "them" (Christian soldiers and marines) angle.

 

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