Philippines: Giving Peace Another Chance


June 8, 2010:  The war against the communist NPA continues, with the army shifting troops to areas where the most successful NPA commanders are, taking them down, and then continuing down the list. It's a war of attrition that, at the moment, the communist rebels are losing. The army is concentrating on finding and destroying NPA camps, and the communist rebels are fighting hard to protect these bases. Without them, it's more difficult to train, and retain, fighters.

The newly elected government is going to take a shot at taming (eliminating) the bureaucracy and corruption in government that makes the economy one of the weakest (and poorest) in the region. This means repealing hundreds of laws and regulations. That alone will eliminate much of the corruption, because venal officials charge businesses to deal with all those regulations. Poverty is responsible for a lot of the violence, but is mainly a source of general discontent, and the migration of many of the best educated and ambitious young people.  The economy grew about four percent in the first three months of 2010, but neighboring nations experienced even greater growth.

June 4, 2010: On Basilan, troops killed three Abu Sayyaf members. Kin of two of the dead rebels, also Abu Sayyaf, killed three kidnapped civilians and two villagers in retaliation. Abu Sayyaf has been taking a beating for years, but on Basilan, and nearby islands, such anti-government violence is an old tradition that many local Moslems still adhere to. But the number of local Moslems willing, and able, to keep fighting, has been diminishing each year, after five years of heavy military presence.

May 31, 2010: The MILF is ready to resume peace talks with the new government, but have been told, rather bluntly, that the situation is unchanged from the old government. Despite that, the MILF signed an agreement to resume talks anyway. Negotiations have been deadlocked over how much autonomy Moslem politicians in the south would have, dealing with corruption (which is worst in the south) and control over Christians living in the south. The government still cannot meet MILF demands in these areas.

May 29, 2010: In two incidents, two soldiers were killed in clashes with NPA rebels.

May 28, 2010:  In the eastern Philippines, seven policemen were hurt in a clash with NPA rebels.

May 27, 2010: Abu Sayyaf kidnapped three men on Basilan and held them for ransom. The families could not pay the $21,000 demanded, and the men were killed on June 4th. Ransom is a major source of income for Abu Sayyaf.

May 26, 2010: As a concession to the government, the MILF replaced one of the two MILF commanders who went rogue and attacked Christians in the south two years ago. The two commanders were too popular and powerful for the MILF to shut down back then. But two years of retaliation by the army has changed all that.

May 25, 2010: In the south, three troops were killed in clashes with NPA rebels.





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