Philippines: January 10, 2004

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The NPA has replaced the Moslem rebels (MILF and Abu Sayyaf) as the greatest threat to the government and, increasingly, the economy. Today, some sixty NPA rebels attacked a power plant south of the capital. They were repulsed by security guards and soldiers, leaving three soldiers and three rebels dead. The NPA has regularly attacked power towers, communications equipment and the economy in general. The NPA wants to establish a Maoist type communist dictatorship in the Philippines, and use that to solve many social and economic problems. To many poor people in the countryside, this has some appeal. There has been some kind of armed communist rebel organization in the country since World War II (when the communists were one faction of the partisans fighting the Japanese.) Most urban Filipinos know of the dark side of Maoism and want no part of it. But the NPA has a steady supply of new recruits from the countryside. There are about 9,000 armed rebels on the payroll, and money is raised through extortion and kidnapping. Until recently, overseas backers also provided cash, but this source was partially cut off when the U.S. cracked down on groups it had declared terrorist organizations (like the NPA).

 

The government has become more energetic, and effective, at dealing with rebel organizations. The US has provided more training, and more new and second hand equipment. The government is getting 30 second hand UH-1 helicopters, ten light attack aircraft and at least three patrol boats. New tactics, better training and improved leadership have already shattered the MILF and Abu Sayyaf.  Several notorious kidnapping gangs have also been crushed by the military and police working together. Now the NPA is the major target, but the NPA is more political, and perhaps more fanatical, than the Moslem rebels and kidnappers (many of whom were former MILF members).

 

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