There is no let-up in operations against Islamic terrorists in the
southern Philippines. The holiday truce only applies to communist NPA rebels.
Most Islamic separatists have agreed to negotiate an end to decades of
violence, but the hard core Islamic extremists, now linked to al Qaeda and
similar groups, are determined to fight to the death. There are several hundred
of these fanatics in the south, and it may take years for the police and
military to hunt down all of them.
21, 2006: The military approved a four day halt (truce) in operations against
NPA rebels. The halt applies to December 24th and 25th, and
December 31st to January 1, 2007. But it was considered too dangerous to try
and hold a truce with Islamic militants in the south.
20, 2006: The military has changed its mind about declaring a Christmas truce.
The brass felt that they had communist and Moslem rebels on the run and ought
to keep the pressure on. But apparently that did not go over too well with the
troops. Christmas is a big family holiday for most Filipinos, and for the last
twenty years, the troops had had their truce, which meant many of them could go
home for the celebrations. It's a big deal, or at least bigger than the
19, 2006: A legal dispute over who should have custody of an American marine
accused and tried for rape, has led to the cancellation of joint
(U.S.-Filipino) military exercises this February. The disagreement over the
interpretation of a treaty (covering who has custody of American troops being
prosecuted by Filipino courts) has touched a nerve in the U.S. military and the
Filipino judiciary. The Filipino media has jumped on it as a case of American
bullying, for canceling the exercise, while American military leaders see it as
a matter of maintaining morale. Many Americans and Filipinos believe the accused
marine is being railroaded.
16, 2006: A Congressman and his bodyguard were murdered by gunmen on bicycles.
There have been several other murder attempts on politicians recently. Such
attacks on prominent political figures causes an uproar, but are fairly common,
with ten or so a month. Playing this rough is a tradition everyone wishes would
go away, but it won't.