January 26, 2012: The army announced they had killed
341 NPA gunmen last year and that the leftist rebel group was down to about 4,000 armed members. The army lost 56 soldiers in fighting with the NPA. That's down from 91 soldiers killed the year before. There were 447 clashes with the NPA last year, an 11 percent drop from 2010. Some 40 percent of those clashes were with the security forces, the rest were NPA attacks on civilians. Last year the NPA raised about $7 million in extortion payments and did about $27 million in damage to businesses that refused to pay.
The peace talks with MILF (the southern rebels seeking Moslem autonomy) are moving very slowly. MILF has internal problems (factionalism and many members going rogue to make money as common criminals) which makes it difficult to nail down a peace deal with the government.
January 23, 2012: Off Basilan Island, one group of fishermen attacked another, killing fifteen of them. The attackers believed the other group was fishing in an area that they felt no one else should fish in. Such territorial disputes are common in the south but they rarely get this violent.
January 20, 2012: The president fired the head of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation, similar to the American FBI) for corruption. The NBI is usually involved in high-profile kidnapping cases, and it's long been rumored that government officials have taken a share of ransoms paid. Sometimes police have been found to be the kidnappers or working closely with the kidnappers.
January 19, 2012: The U.S. has told the Philippines that it will provide two more used Coast Guard patrol ships. The first of these recently arrived.
January 18, 2012: In the south, four soldiers were wounded when they encountered an NPA mine. Troops were pursuing leftist rebels who had been attacking farms that refused to make extortion payments (which are what finances the NPA these days).
January 17, 2012: In the south, police arrested Abu Ismael, a wanted Abu Sayyaf bomb builder. Abu Ismael has been wanted since 2001 for kidnapping Americans and Filipinos. He later became a skilled bomb maker.
A retired army general was charged with evading taxes on $10 million in unexplained income. Corruption charges will probably follow.
January 16, 2012: In the south, troops were alerted about an NPA raid on a plantation that was refusing to pay for "protection." Troops ambushed the two dozen leftist rebels and killed six of them.
January 14, 2012: In the south, police arrested Temogen Tulawie, a terrorist wanted for involvement in two bombings.
January 12, 2012: In the south, a bomb went off in Cotabato City, wounding two people.
January 11, 2012: In the south, two bombs were disarmed in Cotabato City.
January 10, 2012: In the south, gunmen tried to assassinate the vice-mayor of Cotabato City.
January 9, 2012: A bomb-sniffing dog on a ferry down south detected bomb making materials (10 kg/22 pounds of explosives and detonators) on a bus. The driver was arrested.