Philippines: Your Money Or Your Life

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May 9, 2013: Counter-terrorism officials admit that Islamic terrorists are still getting into the country, mainly through the Moslem south, where there are still a lot of Moslem Filipinos who support Islamic radicalism and terrorism. The foreign terrorists, especially those from the region (who can pass as Filipinos because Malays are the most common ethnic type in the area) can hide in plain sight if given help by local Moslems. But these foreigners do leave a trail, as their presence is noticed by non-supporters (Moslem and Christian) of Islamic radicalism. Intelligence operatives get tips or just canvas neighborhoods and pick up signs (that guy with the Indonesian accent). From time to time all this tracking will result in an arrest or a dead terrorist. This is no secret, and the Islamic terrorists are keeping a low profile because of all this intel work and constant pressure. The foreign terrorists are not idle and are helping to recruit and train more terrorists. High unemployment and low education levels (conservative Moslem clerics discourage secular education) creates a lot of desperate young Moslem men looking for a way out. For some, Islamic terrorism remains a viable option.  

In neighboring Malaysia (Sabah), police continue to hunt down Filipino Moslems associated with Filipino clan leader Raja Kiram. He openly invaded the Malaysian province of Sabah in February and sought to take control of Sabah because of an old claim his family had on the area. The invasion force was destroyed in March. The fighting resulted in over 80 dead (nearly all of them Filipinos). Malaysia believes there are still at least a hundred of the armed Kiram followers in the area, and the search for them continues. Some of those already captured are being prosecuted and 23 have been charged with murder and terrorism so far. Meanwhile over 5,000 Filipino civilians (most of them apparently working in Sabah illegally) have fled Sabah, many of them returning to the Philippines. Malaysia does not believe rumors that hundreds of additional armed Kiram followers have recently arrived. It is known that hundreds of Filipinos continue to flee Sabah each week as the Malaysian government is no longer tolerating Filipinos living illegally in Sabah.

May 6, 2013: In the south (Basilan) an army officer and a soldier were killed (and four soldiers wounded) by an Abu Sayyaf ambush. The officer and two government officials (and an escort of soldiers) were coming from a meeting with local MILF leaders and delivering economic aid. Abu Sayyaf is opposed to the MILF peace negotiations with the government, as the resulting autonomy deal would make Abu Sayyaf (which considers itself fighters for Moslem independence in the south) less relevant and more unpopular.

May 4, 2013: In the central Philippines (Negros Island) NPA rebels attacked a gold mine, killed five soldiers guarding it, and burned buildings and equipment. This was part of the NPA campaign to force companies to pay “revolutionary taxes” in order to operate without being attacked. The NPA needs these payments to keep its strength up. In much of the country the NPA is losing that battle. After most communist governments collapsed in the late 1980s, NPA strength began a rapid decline , from 25,000 back then to less than 4,000 now. Most Filipinos consider the NPA gangsters, not leftist social reformers, and a growing number of NPA units fit the description. The NPA are especially despised during election season (every three years) when they extort money from candidates to ensure the political campaigners and their supporters are not attacked by the leftist thugs. Many candidates are refusing to pay this year and the army and police have been providing additional security. Often NPA will attack anyway, even though this will trigger a major military effort to find the attackers. The NPA has responded with more personal attacks against soldiers (death squads and kidnapping).

May 3, 2013: In the south (Agusan del Norte) some fifty NPA gunmen attacked twenty soldiers and local defense volunteers and were repulsed. There were no government casualties, but several on the NPA side (as seen by the numerous blood trails and weapons left behind) were hurt. The NPA usually carries away their dead and wounded, as leaving live or dead rebels behind provides the government with useful information about the local NPA personnel. The NPA has been taking a beating in the Agusan del Norte area and this attack was a failed attempt to discourage the security forces.

April 28, 2013: In the south (Basilan Island) two army intelligence operatives were killed by an Abu Sayyaf death squad.

April 26, 2013: In the south (Lanao del Norte) a political candidate and many supporters were ambushed, twelve people were killed. The culprits were believed to be rivals from another clan. Such clan-based violence is common in the Moslem south.

 

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