December 22, 2012: The government is negotiating with the United States regarding the extent of increased American military presence in the Philippines and surrounding waters. China has reacted by proclaiming that its armed forces would be adequate to confront any foreign efforts to contest Chinese claims to most of the South China Sea (including areas off the coast of the Philippines where oil and natural gas have been found). The U.S. does not want to get into a war with China over its outrageous claims to the South China Sea, but there is the problem of allowing a nation to just grab islands that have long been recognized as belonging to a neighbor. The Chinese claims include revising international law (the 1994 Law of the Sea treaty) that finally (it was thought) settled who was entitled to what and where. This treaty left many disputed islands whose ownership still had to be settled by negotiation. But China is blowing right past the 1994 treaty (which China signed) and saying, in effect, “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too.” Chinese leaders have made these claims a matter of national pride, painting themselves into a very dangerous corner. The Philippines and all the other nations that are locked in this territorial dispute are forming an alliance, which contains the United States. America is willing to train more frequently with Filipino forces and spend more time in the Philippines but the U.S. does not want to get involved with confrontations with Chinese forces unless forced to. What kind of force that might be has been left vague.
MILF and the government are stalled in negotiating the details of their peace deal. Neither side believes that these disagreements will derail the peace deal.
December 21, 2012: The NPA declared a 26 day nationwide truce, to last from December 20 to January 15. This is the longest truce the NPA has ever declared. Due to the decentralized nature of the NPA, some of its 4,000 fighters (organized into over a hundred separate groups) will not obey the truce. Since the late 1960s the leftist NPA has caused over 40,000 deaths. The NPA wants to establish a communist dictatorship in the Philippines but has been in decline since the collapse of European communism in the late 1980s.
December 20, 2012: In the north (Quezon) NPA rebels kidnapped a former NPA rebel and two village guards and killed them. The leftist rebels consider those who leave the NPA to be deserters and try to kill them whenever possible.
December 17, 2012: In the south (Iloilo province) troops doing disaster relief work were attacked by NPA rebels. One soldier was killed and the attackers were repulsed with casualties (blood trails were found). Soldiers in the area were ordered to be more alert because the local NPA appears to be ignoring the 18 day disaster relief truce.
December 15, 2012: The government declared an 18 day unilateral truce with the NPA, in part because troops and police are needed to help victims of a recent massive typhoon (Pacific hurricane) on the 4th that left over a thousand dead and many more injured or homeless. Soldiers and NPA units began observing informal truces five days ago, in areas hardest hit by the typhoon (which damaged or destroyed NPA bases as well).
December 14, 2012: MILF has ordered members of its combat units to not appear in public carrying weapons or wearing their uniforms. That can be done on MILF bases but not in areas where they might encounter soldiers or police. This new policy is meant to prevent gun battles between armed MILF members and government security forces.
Police In the south (Davao City) shot dead an Islamic terrorist, Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar, who had threatened to detonate a bomb in a backpack. Kahar was a Malaysian son of a police sergeant who was recruited into Indonesian Islamic terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) via Facebook. Like many JI members, he fled to the Philippines and found sanctuary with local Islamic terror group Abu Sayyaf. Filipino police have been searching for Kahar since early February, when Kahar was almost captured during a raid on an Islamic terrorist camp. Kahar, in his haste to flee, left some personal items behind, including his Malaysian government ID card. Police soon found that Kahar was a wannabe terrorist who was still out there seeking an opportunity to kill for the cause. Police are unsure where Kahar planned to place the bomb. Kahar had been keeping in touch with other JI members via the Internet. He and his Filipina wife were located via a tip.
December 12, 2012: In the central Philippines (Palawan) NPA rebels attacked a police station, killing one policeman and wounding another. The police chief was supposed to be there but was absent and is being investigated for that. The police chief is also in trouble over allegations that the NPA attack was in retaliation for police extorting protection money from miners, which is a criminal activity the NPA considers theirs alone.
December 11, 2012: The government extended its modernization plan for the army another 15 years. The previous plan had not worked out so well and the Philippines Army is still one of the most poorly equipped in the region. This is largely because the Philippines does not have a lot of money for the military, and most of what is available goes to pay for operations against Islamic and leftist rebels. Then there is corruption, wich is frequently found in procurement programs. This means that the new equipment funds are often plundered by corrupt officers and little or nothing actually gets to the troops.
December 6, 2012: In the north (Leyte) ten NPA rebels attacked an army detachment doing development work in a rural village and killed two soldiers. Elsewhere in Leyte, NPA men attacked a village and wounded a civilian. In both attacks the leftist rebels were driven off by troops.
December 5, 2012: The NPA said they would observe a 29 day unilateral truce with the government, in part because troops and police are needed to help victims of a recent massive typhoon. The truce will apparently only apply in the provinces hardest hit by the Typhoon.