Philippines: The Nostalgia War

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November 4, 2006: The negotiations with the MILF are stuck because the MILF wants about a thousand villages in the south included in the Moslem autonomous area, but the government only will allow 600. The problem is that millions of Christians have moved into the south since World War II, and the demographics have changed. The government does not want to put a lot of Christians under the control of Moslem leadership, but the MILF wants a return to the past, and control of villages that once were all Moslem, but are no longer so.

November 3, 2006: In the south, a group of armed men fired on some civilians, killing three and wounding several others. The government blamed this on the MILF, but the MILF, after looking into it, said it was the result of a clan feud. Such disputes are more common in the south, and are often confused with MILF operations.

November 2, 2006: In the south, a group of 30 MILF gunmen opened fire on an army patrol, which returned fire. The MILF men withdrew, and no one was hurt. The head of the army said a renewed war with the MILF would not be a problem. The army has 120,000 troops, the MILF has about 3,000 hard core fighters, and perhaps twice as many recent recruits or armed villagers throughout the south.

In the north, NPA rebels, disguised as policemen, raided an army base and stole weapons.

October 29, 2006: Opinion polls indicate that Islam recovering from bad press it as received because of Islamic terrorism. Two years ago, 41 percent of Filipinos had an unfavorable view of Islam, now it is 29 percent. Two years ago, 52 percent viewed Islam favorably, and that has risen to 66 percent. Seven percent of Filipinos are Moslem.

 

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