The peace talks with the MILF are getting a bit heated as government officials complain of rogue MILF gunmen killing soldiers (on the 12th) and invading a resort island (on the 15th). MILF leadership admit that they have lost control of many factions. Some of the rogue groups have gone off to become bandits (some always were, but kept quiet about it), while others are simply allied with bandits and terrorists. It's these alliances and activities that are behind the renewed interest, by the senior leadership of the MILF, of cutting a deal with the government. The MILF is falling apart, largely because of decades of futile fighting. Many MILF members see the Christian majority up north (and even in their own midst) prospering, and want some of that. But the corruption and violence in the Moslem south makes it difficult for economic activity to flourish.
Marines landed near a resort on Balabac island (near Palawan), and attacked a group of 30 MILF gunmen who had taken over a village near the resort. Two of the gunmen were killed and two of them wounded. The leader of the MILF group, Abdullah Abdurajak, is on the run from police for various criminal activities.
August 16, 2009: In the south, police captured another NPA camp, and confiscated over 30 police and army uniforms. The communist rebels use these to disguise themselves during raids on police stations (to steal weapons and equipment.)
August 15, 2009: On Basilan, near the site of a recent battle for two Abu Sayyaf camps, someone fired on two military helicopters, forcing them to make an emergency landing. On Balabac island (near Palawan), 30 armed have landed and taken control of a remote village, forcing the occupants to flee. There are popular beach resorts in the vicinity, and police have been sent to protect them. Marines have been assigned to go after the gunmen.
August 14, 2009: Several more navy patrol boats were sent to Basilan, where Abu Sayyaf terrorists fleeing a recent raid on two of their camps, are believed to be seeking to flee to nearby islands.
August 13, 2009: A search of one of the captured terrorist camps on Basilan revealed that this was where some terrorist bombs were built, and people trained to make and place the bombs.
August 12, 2009: On Basilan island, 500 soldiers, marines and police attacked two fortified Abu Sayyaf camps, bolding about 150 terrorists. Eight hours of fighting left twenty soldiers and three marines dead, along with at least 31 of the terrorists. The surviving Abu Sayyaf fled into the jungle. Reinforcing troops were ambushed by some local MILF gunmen, who apparently were coming to the aid of the attacked Abu Sayyaf camps. This is where most of the soldiers were killed. Some of the Abu Sayyaf on Basilan have family ties to local MILF leaders and the two groups still cooperate.