Philippines: Getting Past the Factions


March 23,2008: Seven years of peace talks with the MILF appear destined to remain stalled until the MILF can work out its own internal problems. It's the usual story; the MILF has factions that demand more autonomy, or separatism, than the government will tolerate. Actually, some of the MILF factions are very close to Islamic radical groups like Abu Sayyaf, in that they want a religious dictatorship in the southern Philippines, complete with the expulsion of the Christian minority. What probably will happen, as has happened before, is that most of the MILF will agree to an autonomy deal, and the dissenting factions will form a new Moslem militant organization, that will fight on.

The army has made good on its announced offensive against the NPA, with several clashes a week. Moreover, the army and police are tracking down key NPA personnel and locating the remote camps where most NPA gunmen live. When these camps get raided and destroyed, the communist rebels living there suffer a drop in morale, more desertions and more difficulty recruiting.

On Jolo, a similar strategy of persistent searching continues to grind down the Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorist group. Attempts to get a terror bombing campaign going, in the rest of the country, has failed. Most Filipinos are hostile to Islamic terrorism, including much of the Moslem population, and it's difficult for Islamic radicals to travel and remain under cover.

March 12, 2008: In the south, police arrested a man at a checkpoint and found him carrying a bomb. The man turned out to be an Islamic radical, and was the fifth arrested so far this year.


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