Philippines: Dying For The Past


October 6, 2011: The communist NPA rebels are losing what little popular support they have because of continued attacks on civilians and companies that provide jobs (usually in areas of high unemployment).  The NPA has consistently preached revolution and the overthrow of the elected government, but they have also ruthlessly murdered civilians that got in their way. In 40 years of fighting, an average of a thousand people a year have died from NPA violence, most of them civilians. The latest NPA campaign, against three new mining operations in rural parts of the southern island of Mindanao, has led to the mining companies threatening to shut down. NPA makes the attacks because the mining companies refuse to pay protection money, which everyone now realizes just helps keep the NPA gunmen in action. The government cannot afford to lose the income and jobs from these mines, so troops are being moved in to try and protect the mines.  The NPA has about 5,000 armed members, but most of the senior leaders have spent decades living in European exile. The NPA has turned into a criminal gang during the last decade, especially since they were declared international terrorists.

The MILF Moslem rebels are divided over how to end the decades of fighting. The basic fact is that the four million Moslems in the big island in the south (Mindanao) are now outnumbered by Christians who moved there in the last half century. The Christian Filipinos are better organized, more industrious and more economically successful. The Moslems believe they should run Mindanao even if they are the minority, because Mindanao is the local "Islamic homeland." While some in the government were willing to concede this, the Christian majority in Mindanao (and the rest of the Philippines) was not. MILF has about 12,000 armed members, but a quarter, or more, belong to factions that have turned into common criminals, or are more loyal to clan leaders than MILF.

October 5, 2011:  On Basilan Island, troops clashed with fifty Abu Sayyaf, and one soldier was killed and two wounded. The Islamic terrorists retreated, taking their dead and wounded with them.

September 29, 2011: MILF has expelled the rogue BILF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front) front. Actually, MILF has expelled the BILF commander, Ameril "Kato" Umbrakato, and hopes to entice his followers to remain with MILF. Kato, and BILF ignored a September 26th deadline to return to MILF control, or else. BILF says it will keep fighting. BILF has, at most, a thousand armed men. There are several other rogue factions that, if they allied themselves with BILF, would double the number. But rogue factions are not inclined to join forces with anyone, so MILF can pick them off one at a time. While a bloody process, that is what the government is demanding before peace talks can resume.

September 27, 2011: On Basilan, Abu Sayyaf gunmen attacked a "disloyal" village, leaving six dead and seven wounded.

September 25, 2011: In the south, NPA gunmen raided a bus company depot and burned out twelve busses. NPA stays in business by extracting "revolutionary taxes" from businesses. Those that refuse are attacked.

On Jolo Island, dozens of Abu Sayyaf gunmen attacked a school construction site guarded by marines. The rebels were repulsed, and 13 of them killed. The marines lost two men. The school was a U.S. supported aid project. Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic radical organization that opposes secular education and economic aid from non-Moslem sources. But most Filipino Moslems back the schools, and any development projects.

September 21, 2011: The military declared a one day ceasefire, to commemorate the UN sponsored International Peace Day. The NPA objected, and kidnapped and murdered two off duty soldiers to make their point.

September 19, 2011: On Basilan Island, troops rescued the kidnapped wife of a British engineer, killing three Abu Sayyaf members in the process. The troops did not know this group of Abu Sayyaf were holding the woman, and discovered her in the course of the attack. Abu Sayyaf was apparently partners with a criminal gang that specialized in kidnapping.



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