In the last year,
troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf 53 times,
in which 67 rebels were killed, 75 captured and two surrendered. This is
believed to have reduced the size of Abu Sayyaf to 379 members, down 16 percent
from a year ago. Police started off the new year by capturing two Abu Sayyaf
leaders responsible for the 2001 beach resort kidnapping.
Despite the setbacks, the communist NPA
and Abu Sayyaf still have some public support, especially outside the
Philippines. The communists play to their overseas supporters by attacking
targets that resonate with the foreigners. Mines are considered bad by foreign
leftists, although the locals will fight to keep them open. But it's foreign
supporters who will get the NPA off the international terrorists list, and
allow foreigners to again freely contribute to keeping the NPA violence going.
Abu Sayyaf also depends on foreign support, but is having trouble keeping lines
of communication open, given that thousands of soldiers and marines are beating
the bushes on Jolo and Basilan, seeking to round up the few remaining
January 1, 2008: Despite a ceasefire,
government forces clashed with MILF rebels 97 times in the past year, leaving
35 rebels dead and 60 under arrest.
December 31, 2007: NPA extortion
demands have escalated as the organization struggles to maintain its strength.
Going after road construction in rural areas and new mining projects has made
the NPA even more unpopular out in the bush. The roads are needed to enable
rural people to move produce out and goods in. The mining operations bring jobs
and development. But the NPA rebels have to get paid, otherwise a growing
number of the communist gunmen wander away looking to more secure and less
dangerous work. In the last year, 13 of a hundred areas where the NPA was
active, were cleared of the rebels.