Philippines: September 29, 1999

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The government reports that the communist guerillas are making a comeback. Iin 
the mid-1980s the communists had a peak strength of  some 26,000 fighters. The fall of communism worldwide, and infighting among Philippine communists, caused the local guerilla strength to fall to about  6,000 in the mid-1990s. But in the last few years, the Philippine communist guerillas have increased in number. By late 1998, their strength had grown to 8,900. By the Summer of 1999 it was about 9,400. The number of weapons grew from 5,800 in December 1998 to 6,000 in the Summer of 1999. The factionalism remains, with some 83 percent of the guerillas belonging to the Maoist faction led by 30 year old Jose Maria Sison (who lives in Holland.) The rest belong to a faction that does not follow Sison's hard line Maoist line. The communist success is the result of continuing economic problems in the Philippines and energetic political organizing at the village level. In addition, there is the Moslem separatist MILF in the southern Philippines with 12,000 members.

September 28; Three Moslem separatists and two soldiers were killed in the south when MILF guerillas and the army clashed in two separate incidents.

September 26; Several MILF attacks resulted in four dead and several wounded.

September 24; In two engagements in the south, two communist guerillas were killed and two captured. Several were also wounded.

September 22; MILF gunmen killed five Christian farmers in a terrorist attack.

September 21; An MILF bus bomb killed four people and wounding several others.

September 15; Three communist guerillas were killed and several wounded when an army patrol encountered a guerilla unit.

September 14; The Philippines has offered to send troops for peacekeeping duty in East Timor. Of all the nations in the region, the Philippines have the most experience dealing with internal unrest. With that in mind, the government has warned Moslem rebels in the southern Philippines that a separatist movement similar to that in East Timor would not be tolerated.

September 21; Four were killed and 19 injured by a bomb in a bus in the southern Philippines. Moslem separatists are suspected, as they have done this before in order to extort money from the bus companies.

September 19; Several clashes with the NPA in the central Philippines left three rebels dead and sight captive, The NPA has grown to 8,000 members, from 6,000 last year. The NPA is a communist organization and their growth is linked to worsening economic conditions in the country.

September 16; Although the Philippines has offered troops for the East Timor peacekeeping missions, they do not want to send combat units, but rather a thousand army engineers and medical personnel. As a neighbor of Indonesia, the Philippines does not want to have their troops fighting Indonesian soldiers. The memories of that could poison future relations between the two countries.

September 15; Three NPA guerillas were killed and several wounded in a clash with troops in the southern Philippines.

September 14; Four were injured in a bus bombing in the southern Philippines.

September 12; Army patrols in the southern islands found, and attacked a New People's Army camp. Over 40 guerillas were believed killed or wounded. The aggressive patrolling was in response to a guerilla ambush the previous day, in which three soldiers were killed and five wounded.

September 6; Three days of fighting in the southern Philippines against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has killed one soldier and wounded three. The fighting was sparked by the presence of some 200 MILF fighters, who were trying to settle a feud between two clans, one of them led by a MILF official. The disorder from this feud has created some 5,000 refugees.

September 3; In anticipation of peace talks with Moslem separatists to start in October, the government ordered its troops in the southern Philippines to suspend all offensive operations.

September 1; One officer was killed and a soldier wounded fighting Moslem separatists in the southern Philippines. Peace talks with the Moslem rebels are now scheduled to start on October 6th. Two gunmen entered a disco in the southern Philippines and opened fire on soldiers, killing one and wounding three.

 

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