Philippines: Calling China's Bluff


July 5, 2011: Peace negotiations with the MILF are still stalled on government demands that the rebels get all their various factions under control. There are still several hundred dissident MILF gunmen harassing Christians in the south. There's another problem, with MILF leadership still demanding a larger area in the south to be declared "ancestral homeland" for Moslems,  Some of this territory has long been occupied by Christians, who don't want to move.

The U.S. and the Philippines began scheduled naval exercises. But China had also carried out such exercises in contested waters off the west coast of the Philippines. The U.S. has not agreed to back the Philippines in any showdown over disputed islands in the South China Sea, and the Philippines doesn't have the naval or air power to oppose the growing military strength of China. Some Filipino officials suggested that the air force seek to buy six second hand jet fighters, as the air force has none at present. The Philippines has not had any jet fighters since 2005, when the last of its elderly F-5s were retired. Because of the need for COIN (counter insurgency) aircraft and helicopters (to fight MILF, NPA and Abu Sayyaf), and a general shortage of money, acquiring new fighters has been delayed for the last two decades. China seems content to bully its neighbors into giving into its demands over disputed islands and resource claims. Yet the Philippines has undertaken oil and gas exploration off Palawan Island (which is not disputed) in waters that are disputed. This is forcing China to either escalate its harassment or back off.

On Basilan, an army patrol encountered an armed Abu Sayyaf member, who was killed in a gun battle.

July 4, 2011: In the south, NPA rebels burned two wood processing plants. The owners had apparently failed to pay protection money. Income from extortion is the main source of operating funds for these communist rebels.

July 2, 2011: In the south (Davao City) a group of NPA rebels fired on an army patrol, and then fled. The soldiers returned fire, and found blood, indicating one or more of the rebels was shot.  Elsewhere in the south, the caretaker of a mosque was killed when he came upon a bomb (that exploded) outside the mosque.

June 25, 2011: An explosion in a Basilan restaurant left two dead. At first it was believed to be Abu Sayyaf retaliation for the arrest of two of their members. But police are also trying to determine if it was just an accidental explosion of a cooking gas canister.

June 23, 2011:  On Jolo island, an Indian man was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf. Such crimes are now the chief source of income for the Islamic terrorists.

June 22, 2011: On Basilan, police captured two Abu Sayyaf members, and freed three kidnapping victims. The use of kidnapping and theft to keep themselves going has made Abu Sayyaf less popular among the general population, and more people are informing on the Islamic terrorists.

June 18, 2011: In the north, police arrested an NPA leader and charged her with a long list of crimes.




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