Philippines: Starving Leftist Rebels Want To Talk


December 17, 2010: A ceasefire and renewed peace talks with the NPA mean, to the government, the end of the NPA in three years. At least that's the current plan. The NPA is split on this, with many sensing that the end is near, while a violent hard core are ready to fight to the death. In general, the communist NPA is feeling the heat of social change, as the government introduces more education, health and economic development efforts in rural areas the NPA long considered their own. NPA gunmen are trying to interfere with these projects, with attacks on the troops that deliver the services, or guard the civilians who do so. But three years after the government offered an amnesty deal to members of the NPA, and increased military efforts against those who would not surrender, the communist rebels are much reduced in strength. 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 if 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. This massive failure of communist states left NPA much weaker ideologically, and vulnerable to the amnesty offer.

December 14, 2010:  NPA rebels on Samar ambushed and killed ten soldiers (and a nearby civilian). The troops were returning to base in preparation for the NPA Christmas ceasefire. The army normally hunts down NPA groups that carry out these kinds of attacks, and the army says it will call off the pursuit in two days to comply with the ceasefire. This apparently explains the high number of NPA attacks recently.

December 11, 2010: NPA rebels raided a mine in the south, and robbed the staff. In the past, the NPA would destroy the place, as part of their war against capitalism. After the Cold War ended, that changed, and the attacks were more often part of an extortion effort. With the end of the Cold War, came a decline in donations to leftist revolutionaries. Now it's gotten worse, and the NPA often stops buy just to carry out some armed robbery.

Elsewhere in the south, NPA attacked a village, using two village leaders as human shields to get the village militia to surrender, then the rebels stole as much as they could carry.

December 9, 2010: In the south, police arrested a wanted MILF terrorist leader (Datu Mama Abpa). The government had offered a $14,000 reward for the capture of Abpa, but the MILF insisted the man was not a terrorist and demanded his release.

The government agreed to keep its representative away from the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony. They did this in payment for handouts of military equipment from China and to obtain clemency for five Filipinos sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China. The Philippines also hope to obtain additional favor for joining this protest againt honoring a jailed Chinese reformer who won the prize, and greatly embarrassed the Chinese government.

The Supreme Court ruled that a new corruption investigation, which involved former president Arroyo, was unconstitutional. This was seen as a corrupt system protecting itself, but newly elected president Aquino says he will take on this system. The smart money is on the system.

December 7, 2010: In the north, NPA gunmen attacked some soldiers, and killed two nearby civilians. In the south, the army clashed with a clan militia near the town of Ampatuan, killing one of the militiamen. Elsewhere, soldiers killed six NPA rebels and halted a foraging expedition (which usually involved robbing villagers.) In the last few days, there have been several clashes with NPA gunmen, who are apparently hustling to steal what they can before the Christmas ceasefire begins.

December 6, 2010:  China agreed to provide assistance in upgrading the logistics capabilities of the Filipino armed forces.

December 3, 2010: In the south, Abu Sayyaf attacked Malaysian freighter and stole as much as they could carry off in their speedboat. The NPA agreed to resume peace talks with the government. These talks had been suspended five years ago.

December 2, 2010: On Basilan island, teachers were pulled out of four schools because of the threat of kidnapping by Islamic terrorists (Abu Sayaff.)





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