Philippines: Rebels on the Run From Reality


September 13, 2007: Peace negotiations with the Moslem separatist MILF inch closer to a conclusion. The haggling is still mainly over real estate. The three million Moslems in the south still claim "ancestral rights" (to administer, and collect taxes from) many areas that have become largely Christian in the past decade. The Christian majority (95 percent of the population) has been encroaching, on the sparsely populated areas of the Moslem south, for over a century. But this movement has accelerated as the economy has improved in the last decade. Many Moslems see their culture threatened, but armed resistance has not done much to help. Most Moslems want a peace deal, one that guarantees them some protection from these trends. The peace deal won't really stop the future from arriving, but it will reduce the violence and allow for more economic development.

September 12, 2007: Former Philippine president and movie star Joseph Estrada was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to life in prison. Estrada, because of his fame, and spectacular acts of corruption, was the poster boy for all that is wrong with Filipino politics. Putting Estrada away like this has major popular appeal, but the corruption continues. The crooked politicians are just more careful. Honesty is not seen as a viable option by too many government officials.

September 11, 2007: Three more Abu Sayyaf terrorists were arrested on Palawan. Apparently, Abu Sayyaf was planning a kidnapping and terrorist campaign against tourist facilities on the island. This was not a popular idea with the locals, who depend on the tourism for many of the good jobs available in the area.

September 7, 2007: The government officially offered an amnesty deal to members of the NPA. The communist rebels have been fighting, in one form or another, since the end of World War II, trying to establish a communist dictatorship in the country. They have not been very successful, despite lots of economic and social problems they could promise to fix it they obtained control of the country. Enthusiasm for a "communist solution" to problems has gone downhill since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and its East European communist allies, in 1989-91. The NPA is much weaker now, and vulnerable to such an amnesty offer.

September 6, 2007: Abu Moguera, a known Abu Sayyaf member and associate of Indonesian Islamic terrorists, was captured on Palawan island in the south. Three other Abu Sayyaf members were arrested at the same time.


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