Philippines: Making Money, Not Revolution.


October 19, 2011: The fighting on Basilan continues, as more troops join in the search for the gunmen who ambushed an army patrol yesterday. Armored vehicles and helicopters are now being used. Several thousand local civilians have fled their homes to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

Basilan, Jolo and other smaller islands in the south still host small groups of Abu Sayyaf, but the group is believed to have little to do with Islamic terrorism anymore, and has evolved into a criminal gang. This was how the group began, over a decade ago, when it broke away from MILF.

Government pledges to defeat the leftist NPA rebels in the next few years are being questioned. The NPA remains quite active, and deadly. The army blames this on the NPA success in evolving from a mainly political organization, to a mainly criminal one. While the NPA still promises a communist dictatorship, the outfit is mostly a big, and successful, criminal gang. They are good at making money, not revolution.

October 18, 2011: On Basilan island, an army patrol was ambushed, leaving 13 soldiers dead and ten missing. Up to twenty of the Moslem irregulars were believed killed. At first, it was believed that Abu Sayyaf was responsible, then MILF. But it turned out to be a local gang of bandits, who got some help from MILF members who were trying to help out bandits who were kin. Banditry is very common in the south, although many of the armed gangs are actually militias for a clan or some rich guy.

October 16, 2011: In the south, troops killed a wanted NPA leader and four of his followers.

October 15, 2011: In the south, two soldiers, and a renegade MILF member, were killed during a search for a kidnapped local businesswoman.

October 10, 2011: The army admits that it cannot provide security for all the mining operations in the south that are threatened by leftist NPA rebels. So the army has offered to help the mining companies recruit and train a militia to provide the security. This is opposed by some in the south, because it would give the mining companies their own private, and quite legal, army. Such militias are quite common in the south, and are usually controlled by clan or political leaders. These militias often get out of control. But the army insists that it will monitor the mining company militias, and that the NPA cannot be allowed to generate a lot of cash via extortion of "protection" money from the mining companies.

In the north, a clash with the NPA left eight rebels and one soldier dead.

October 9, 2011: In the south, two bombs went off, at a hotel and bus terminal. Eight people were wounded. Police are unsure if this was the work of Islamic terrorists, or criminal gangs.

October 8, 2011: In the south, NPA rebels attacked a jail and freed four NPA men held there.

October 7, 2011: In the south, thousands of troops were called out to catch NPA rebels who attacked three mining operations.



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