Philippines: There Goes The Judge


December 20, 2011: The government believes that there will finally be a peace deal with MILF in the next year. Peace negotiations have been going on for years and it's reached the point that most of the delays are from haggling over details. In addition, MILF has internal problems, with factions fighting each other or going rogue and becoming gangsters. A peace deal with the government would give the MILF loyalists some reward and allow them to live freely. But there are MILF hardliners who want to keep fighting. Any peace deal with MILF has to avoid triggering a civil war within the Moslem separatist organization.

On Basilan, police searching for an Australian man kidnapped on the fifth have found that the victim has been sold to Abu Sayyaf. The criminals who did the kidnapping felt unable to handle all the police heat and sold their hostage to the terrorists, who have a more extensive network of rural hideouts and experience negotiating ransoms. Foreign governments are warning their citizens to stay away from Basilan, where gangsters and Islamic terrorists survive via ransoms.  

The government is continuing its unusually aggressive campaign against corruption. Judges are being accused of taking bribes, something that has long been known but rarely punished. In addition to arresting former senior politicians and appointed officials, parliament recently removed the chief judge of the Supreme Court for corruption. Most surprisingly former president Gloria Arroyo was arrested for electoral fraud and 300 police were deployed to make sure she was not freed during an operation moving her to another location. She was earlier prevented from leaving the country for medical care. It is believed that this arrest will lead to a major political battle which could be accompanied by gunfire and bombs. The many corrupt politicians and officials are mounting a legal and public relations campaign against the anti-corruption campaign.

December 19, 2011: A storm of unexpected size and speed hit the south over the weekend, killing over a thousand people and forcing nearly 300,000 from their homes. This has shut down the terrorists, separatists, and gangsters, as well as military operations in the flooded areas. Troops and police have been shifted to disaster relief in the areas along the coast where most of the damage was done.

The NPA said it would observe a six day holiday truce. This includes December 24-26 and December 31-January 2.

December 16, 2011: On Basilan, police seized Abu Sayyaf leader Kule Mamagong. The arrested man was wanted for bombings and other crimes going back five years.

The government declared a 18 day holiday truce with the communist NPA rebels, beginning December 16th. Later that day NPA gunmen ambushed an army patrol, killing five soldiers.

December 15, 2011: In the south, a bomb went off on a moving motorcycle, killing the two men on board. Police are trying to find out if the two men were terrorists transporting a bomb or victims of a bombing.

December 14, 2011: The army has decided to court martial four officers for misconduct and incompetence that led to the deaths of 19 soldiers two months ago, during a clash with MILF. Two officers had earlier been removed from their jobs for poor performance during that operation.

December 9, 2011: A 14 year old American boy, held captive by Abu Sayyaf on Basilan since last July, escaped from his captors and the next day found a friendly village where people called the police. A ransom had already been paid for him and his Filipino-American mother but only the mother was released and the kidnappers wanted more cash for the boy.

December 7, 2011: The government and MILF renewed, until 2013, an agreement that brought foreign peace monitors into MILF territory.



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