The government has ordered Filipino sailors (who make up about 80 percent of the crews on ocean going vessels) to stay away from Somalia, unless with a military escort. This order is largely for PR purposes, as the merchant marine is a major source of jobs and income for several hundred thousand Filipino families. So few Filipino merchant mariners will pass on a job because of this.
Troops continue pursuing Abu Sayyaf rebels on Jolo, where the Islamic terrorists are still trying to extract a large ransom for the one Red Cross hostage (a 62 year old Italian) they hold. The rebels, and their hostage, have been on the run for over three months now, and the army feels that time is on their side.
The national police conducted an inspection of officers guns, and the ability of cops to use them, and found that 90 percent of armed police did not know how to properly clean their weapons, or to shoot them with any accuracy. Like police officers elsewhere, most Filipino cops never fire their pistols on duty, or even draw them on anyone.
Over the weekend, troops in the south located and captured 13 MILF camps, capturing dozens of weapons, plus ammunition. These operations are meant to cripple groups of rogue MILF who have been attacking Christian villagers for months.
April 26, 2009: In the south, renegade MILF terrorists were believed responsible for the bombing of a beach resort, which left one Filipino dead, and three wounded. Elsewhere in the south, a dispute over cutting trees left four dead. On Sulu, troops and Abu Sayyaf clashed, but there were no casualties and the rebels ran away.
The government announced that interrogations of recently captured Islamic radicals confirmed that the MILF had assisted Indonesian Islamic terrorist Umar Patek to avoid capture, and find sanctuary in the southern Philippines for himself and more than three dozen other members of Indonesian Islamic terror group Jemaah Islamiyah. The Indonesians began arriving in the Philippines six years ago, and many still remain. Support for the Indonesians caused a rift within the MILF, which contains a lot of more moderate Islamic nationalists. Eventually, the senior leadership began expelling the more radical MILF members, and it was these guys who continued to harbor the Indonesian terrorists.
April 23, 2009: In the south, two clashes with the MILF left four rebels dead.
April 21, 2009: In the south, the surrender of an MILF commander, and twenty of his fighters, coincided with the destruction of a highway bridge near Iligan City. Elsewhere on Mindanao, a bomb went off in a marketplace, wounding two. This was believed the work of renegade MILF members who are now running an extortion racket. On Basilan, police found and defused a bomb that had been placed near a government building.
April 20, 2009: In the south, another bomb went off in a bus station, wounding four people. Police are unsure if this is part of an extortion plot, or Islamic radicals. In some cases, one bomb involves both. On Basilan, police attacked MILF hideout and freed a farmer who was being held for ransom.
April 18, 2009: On Jolo, the Swiss Red Cross official held by Abu Sayyaf, was left behind as the rebels fled approaching troops. The Swiss man was later found by the soldiers. The Swiss hostage was older and tired and was having a hard time keeping up with the Islamic terrorists. The terrorists apparently believed it was more politic just to leave the Swiss captive behind, than to murder him.