Philippines: The Devil Is In The Factions


March 7, 2011:  The communist NPA has agreed to negotiate a peace deal, and to do it by February, 2012. To get things started, the government and rebels will release prisoners in an exchange that will liberate people both sides have long wanted free. Beyond that, the basic idea is that the NPA will get amnesty, lose its official designation as an international terrorist organization and become just another political party. Sounds simple, but many NPA members have become gangsters, and other are diehard revolutionaries. The devil is in the details or, in this case, the factions.

Peace negotiations with MILF have hit a snag over the reluctance of top MILF commanders to shut down factions that refuse to accept anything less than a separate Moslem state in the south. The MILF doesn't want to start a war within their own organization, and believes they can destroy the rebellious faction by persuading subordinate commanders to return to the mainstream MILF. But in the meantime, the rebellious factions continue to attack security forces and Christian civilians.

A determined investigation into military corruption is running into more resistance. Many potential witnesses are reluctant to talk, and official documents are disappearing or, as the officials in charge put it, cannot be found, yet.

March 6, 2011: A new head of the armed forces was appointed, and ordered to deal with the growing amount of corruption being uncovered in the 130,000 strong force. The new commander, a former air force fighter pilot, has fewer ties to the army, which makes up most of the armed forces, and is the source of most of the corrupt practices. This may not be enough, because corruption in an organization where everyone is armed, can get deadly, and complicated.

March 2, 2011: In the north, police clashed with NPA rebels, leaving three communist gunmen and one policeman dead.

March 1, 2011: On Sulu, a wanted member of Abu Sayyaf was arrested on a pier. More Abu Sayyaf men are coming out of the bush, where constant military patrols and less support from civilians, has made life difficult. There are rewards for the capture of many Abu Sayyaf members, and the terrorists try to get away from Sulu, and other islands in the southwest, to where fewer people will recognize them.

February 27, 2011: In the south, an NPA ambush left four policemen dead and three wounded. More soldiers and police were summoned to chase down the twenty leftist rebels involved.  The ambushed police were on their way to investigate a recent murder.





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