Philippines: Warlords On The Defensive

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January 15, 2010: In an effort to cope with a gun and violence culture, police are cracking down. There are an estimated million unregistered firearms in the country. By one count, there are 132 armed militias (containing over 10,000 gunmen) run by powerful politicians (who also tend to be local business magnates.) The massacre of 57 political activists and journalists by a politicians' militia (of the Ampatuan clan) last November has led to a major crackdown on illegal weapons, including military and police personnel illegally carrying weapons off duty. The new effort, beginning on the 7th,  includes the use of 3,500 police checkpoints around the country. The goal is to take many illegal guns out of circulation, and reduce the deaths that normally accompany national elections (like those coming up in May.) Powerful politicians are already maneuvering to prevent the disarmament of their bodyguard and militias. Many of these powerful see the preservation of their militias as a matter of life or death for themselves and their families.

The NPA is seeking to have its supporters gain national office during the May elections. Having failed to make much progress with armed rebellion, the communist NPA is now trying to get their people elected to ten percent of the seats in the national legislature, and use that to obtain the social changes they desire (including a communist dictatorship).

In the south, despite several years of pounding by over 5,000 marines and soldiers, Abu Sayyaf, and other Islamic radical groups, survive. These groups only consist of about 400 members now, and recruiting efforts have managed to slow the attrition from the constant military attacks.

January 14, 2010: Soldiers ran into a group of about 30 NPA rebels, 50 kilometers north of the capital, and killed seven of them. Three of the dead were teenagers, as the NPA has had recruiting problems of late, and has gone after the less capable, but more impressionable, teenagers.

January 11, 2010: In the east, a clash with NPA rebels left two of the rebels dead. Troops recovered six rifles and documents as the rebels fled.

January 8, 2010: In the south, MILF gunmen fought with remnants of the Ampatuan clan, leaving five people dead. Two MILF commanders were seeking to settle a grudge with a local politician who was an ally of the Ampatuan clan. The rebels were repulsed, losing five of their own. The government crackdown on the Ampatuan clan led to the seizure of about a thousand firearms, and attempts to persuade 2,000 militiamen to stop supporting the Ampatuan clan (one of the largest political militias in the country.).

In the east, troops clashed with NPA rebels, killing three of them, and seizing four rifles.

January 4, 2010: Some 75 kilometers east of the capital, three soldiers were wounded as they defended road building equipment from NPA gunmen trying to destroy it. The NPA believes that destroying the economy will create chaos, and enable the communist NPA to take over.

 

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