Philippines: Terrorism Doesn't Dissuade Tourists


January 15, 2008: The government believes it has sharply reduced the size of the two main rebel movements in the country. The communist NPA now has about 5,700 members, a steady decline from their peak strength of 25,000 two decades ago. The NPA decline has accelerated in the last two years, as overseas support was cut off, largely because the organization was classified as an international terrorist organization. Al Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayyaf has declined even more precipitously, from 5,000 eight years ago, to less than 500 now. Although the Islamic terrorists of Abu Sayyaf grab more headlines, it's the NPA that has done more damage. In four decades of operation, the NPA has caused over 40,000 dead, and put many more people out of work via their attacks on economic targets.

January 14, 2008: Over the weekend, a feud between MILF factions led to gun battles, which left at least a dozen dead. Elsewhere, there was also an attack on an army camp, leaving two soldiers dead. Renegade MILF men were believed responsible.

January 12, 2008: Outside the capital, a clash with NPA rebels left two rebels dead and five firearms captured.

January 11, 2008: The communist and Islamic terrorists did not discourage tourists last year, with visits (3.09 million) up 8.7 percent last year (over 2006), and tourist spending up 41 percent. While some foreign nations have, from time to time, warned their citizens to stay away from the southern Philippines, this has not translated into any widespread fear among foreign visitors. South Koreans were the most numerous visitors, comprising about 23 percent of all tourists last year.

January 10, 2008: The government will try to get the constitution changed, to create a federal form of government (as in the United States), rather than the current centralized one (based on the European model), in order to accommodate Moslem separatists in the south. Peace negotiations with the MILF have stalled on these governance issues.


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