February 14, 2009:
In the south, the Moslem fighters of two rogue MILF commanders, are beginning to desert or surrender to the army. The MILF commanders made big promises to their followers, to encourage them to take part in the attacks on Christian villages. This began last August, and initially, hundreds of thousands of civilians were chased out of their villages, which the MILF men looted. But since the army quickly intervened, there's been less loot, and more getting shot at by soldiers. This is not what a lot of MILF guys signed up for and they are not happy about it. Even some of the lower ranking MILF commanders are quitting, disgusted with the lack of progress in peace negotiations, and the poverty brought on by the ceasefire (which has halted the plundering and looting the MILF typically used to maintain themselves).
On Jolo, the government has enlisted the help of 600 armed, local civilians, to help surround the rural area where the kidnappers of three UN workers are believed to be hiding with their captives. The general area where the kidnappers is known, and soldiers and marines have been fired on as they chase the Abu Sayyaf men into a smaller area. Two Abu Sayyaf men have been killed in the last few days on Basilan, and over a dozen soldiers were wounded, because of the search. Abu Sayyaf is demanding $10 million for the three captives. Unlike past high-profile kidnappings, this one has backfired. Most locals appreciate the efforts of the UN and other NGOs, and many see the Abu Sayyaf as a bunch of greedy thugs. A company of Force Recon marines has been sent to Basilan to help with the search for the kidnappers of three UN workers. The Force Recon marines are highly trained, and would likely be used for the actual assault on the kidnappers camp.
February 13, 2009: Police arrested to Filipino men who had been working with foreign (Jemaah Islamiyah) terrorists to carry out bombing attacks in the south. The two were caught with evidence of this work (receipts for bomb components and other documents). The two prisoners had links to Jemaah Islamiyah bomb makers who are still being sought.
On Basilan, nine men kidnapped a foreign peace activist and held him for ransom. But the Belgian NGO the peace advocate belonged to refused to pay ransom.
In the south, a bomb went off outside a school gymnasium, wounding six people. Police are unsure if this is about Islamic terrorism. In the south, a lot of the violence is generated by criminal activity and feuds.
February 6, 2009: The NBI (Filipino FBI) arrested a military intelligence agent for spying on the Department of Justice. Meanwhile, 960 kilometers south of the capital, soldiers clashed with NPA rebels, killing six of them.
February 5, 2009: Kidnapping is a growing problem on Basilan island, with eight people currently being held. Some of the kidnappers are criminals out for a quick score, but most are related to Islamic radical groups, that are all having cash flow problems.
February 4, 2009: On Mindanao, an MILF bomb builder, as part of a training exercise for his apprentices, blew up an electricity transmission tower.
February 3, 2009: On Jolo island, the military said it would never give in to kidnappers demands that troops withdraw from the island before ransom negotiations can proceed.