Philippines: For As Long As It Takes


November 3, 2007: The campaign against Abu Sayyaf continues down south. In the last week, three rebels have been killed, and several suspected Abu Sayyaf members arrested. It's slow going, with the rebels hunkering down in the hopes that the government will eventually give up and go away. In the past, as in for the past few centuries, that has been the pattern. But this time around, the fear of more terrorist bombings is keeping the pressure on the Islamic radicals. The soldiers and marines appear ready to keep patrolling Basilan and Jolo for as long as it takes.

November 2, 2007: NPA rebels destroyed a communications tower in the central Philippines. This is part of a long term campaign against the communications company, to extort money. The communist rebels say its all about opposing exploitation of the workers. But in this case, the communists just want a pay off. Elsewhere, the NPA is attacking foreign mining companies. The NPA says it is trying to shut down the mining operations because of environmental damage. The companies say the NPA is trying to extort money.

October 29, 2007: Nationwide, elections were held for local leaders. A month of campaigning left 23 dead, hundreds wounded and 300 arrested for possession of weapons. The violent incidents declined by more than half, compared to the last elections in 2002. The election violence stems from the custom of some local politicians to maintain their own militia, or hire local criminal gangs, to intimidate rival politicians and their followers. This is a common custom worldwide in countries that have only had democracy for a few generations, and have a somewhat feudal social structure.


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