September 2, 2009: For the last two weeks, the NPA has delayed resumption of peace talks because of new demands that fourteen imprisoned NPA leaders be released first. The government refuses. The government has promised that some of these leaders would be eligible for an amnesty deal (that would mainly apply to the 5,000 or so communist gunmen out in the bush). The NPA has taken a beating over the last decade, and most members want out. The organization has lots two thirds of its manpower since the 1990s. But the leadership has to sort out the issue of who will get amnesty, and who will get prosecuted. The NPA has killed a lot of people over the years, and caused lots of damage. The government is unwilling to let everyone walk, so the NPA leadership has to decide how much pain they are willing to take so that most of them might go free.
September 1, 2009: The government paid a $7,100 reward to an informant, who provided information that led to the capture of Abu Sayyaf leader Hajer Adjuan Sailani last week. Sailani was involved in several kidnappings in 2000-2001, including taking three Americans. Kidnapping grew as a crime after those early Abu Sayyaf operations, particularly when some of them resulted in the payment of multi-million dollar ransoms. But in the last few years, the kidnapping has declined. Partly this is because most Filipinos dislike kidnapping and kidnappers, and are more willing to inform on them. The rewards help, but first you need lots of people willing to talk.
August 30, 2009: On Jolo, an Abu Sayyaf bomb planted near an airbase, wounded two soldiers. In the central Philippines, a force of 50 NPA gunmen attacked a small army camp, forcing fifteen soldiers to withdraw. But reinforcements soon arrived, and the NPA were driven off, after suffering at least eleven dead and wounded.
August 23, 2009: The recession has ended early, with 2.4 percent GDP growth in the second quarter (April-June). The Philippines was not hit by the global recession as badly as most of its neighbors.
August 22, 2009: In the south, 70 MILF members surrendered (along with 40 weapons), and accepted the amnesty.
August 21, 2009: With the help of an informant (who later got a $8,000 reward), police arrested Dinno-Amor Rosalejos Pareja, head of the Islamic terrorist Rajah Solaiman Movement. This is an al Qaeda affiliate, composed of Christians who converted to Islam. While not a large group, it carried out a ferry bombing in 2004 that killed 116 people. Police arrested for the former leader of the group in 2005, and there has not been much violence from this outfit since. But some members are still active, and are now without a leader.
August 20, 2009: The U.S. will keep its 600 special operations and intelligence troops in the Philippines, despite calls to move them to Afghanistan. The U.S. troops have been in the Philippines for seven years, and played an important role in tracking down key Islamic terrorists.