Fallout from the botched August 23rd hostage rescue continues. While some politicians praise the police for making a nice try, even though eight of 25 hostages died. But police officials are resigning and admitting that they screwed up. It's also come out that a more skilled army commando was made available, but the police refused to allow the soldiers to participate. The police are poorly paid, trained and led, and this has led to lots of corruption and poor performance. Politicians have avoided taking on the problem, given that cops can easily be hired by politicians for whatever is needed. But change is in the air, the budget of the national police has been increased 30 percent, and changes have been ordered.
In the south, someone threw a grenade at a ticket office for a ferry company. It's not clear if this was a case of political or criminal (extortion) terrorism.
Although an anti-terrorism law was passed three years ago, that allowed for terror groups to be banned, it is only today that the government is asking a court to use the law to ban a terror group (Abu Sayyaf). This would make membership in the group illegal and make it easier to seize any assets the group, members or collaborators, have. Abu Sayyaf is believed to have about 400 active members, most of them in the south. But some have been caught in the north, trying to carry out terror attacks.
The communist NPA, despite earlier promises, is still using child (actually teenagers under 18) soldiers. Several of these adolescents have surrendered recently, and testified that there were many more kids still carrying guns for the NPA. While the communist group has asked for peace talks, they continue their criminal activities (mainly extortion) and complain that police and soldiers are still coming after them. Dissention in the NPA is the main cause of the delayed peace talks.
In power only two months, the new government has been keeping its promise to go after corruption. An average of one indictment a week is brought against corrupt officials or major tax evaders.
September 5, 2010: In the south, a bomb went off in front of a hotel, but no one was hurt. It's feared that this was in retaliation for the death, yesterday, of an Abu Sayyaf commander. The Islamic terrorist group often reacts to the death of a leader by promptly launching many terror attacks.
September 4, 2010: On the southern island of Jolo, troops caught up with and killed Abu Sayyaf commander Gafur Jumdail, along with two of his followers. Jumdail's brother is also an Abu Sayyaf commander, and the terrorists promptly swore to get vengeance.