In the south, NPA
rebels are getting particularly violent in trying to force mining companies to
pay protection money. In the last few days, at least seven people have been
killed in NPA attacks. If you don't pay, the NPA comes after mining facilities,
or owners and management. As the latter are often locals, this turns into a war
between the communist rebels and armed entrepreneurs. Although the NPA has been
taking a beating for the last five years (since they lost much of their foreign
funding, largely from European leftists, when they were declared terrorists),
they insist they will keep fighting until the end. The government hopes to reach the end within
five years. The NPA violence has been going on since the 1960s, killing over
40,000 people so far.
Over ten thousand soldiers, marines and
police continue to chase after Abu Sayyaf (mainly) and other Islamic terrorists
in the south. This has been going on for over a year, and has reduced the number
of terrorist attacks. Each month, dozens of terrorists are been killed or
captured, out of the several hundred believed to still be in business. But because
the terrorists have dispersed into dozens of smaller groups, that keep in touch
with cell phones, messengers and such. These terrorist cells have to spend most
of their time avoiding encounters with the security forces, and that leaves
little opportunity to terrorize anyone.
February 4, 2008: On Jolo island, an early
morning army raid to rescue two kidnapping victims, led to the death two
soldiers, three MILF rebels and several civilians.
January 31, 2008: In the south, a bomb
went off outside a fish canning plant, killing three and wounding over twenty.
Islamic terrorists were suspected at first, but it was soon discovered to be an
extortion gang. Criminal use of bombs is more common in the Moslem south than
religion based terrorism. In this case, the al Khobar gang has been using bombs
to extort money from bus companies and factory areas throughout the region.
January 30, 2008: Abu Sayyaf leader Wahab
Upao was killed by police in the south. Upao had a $160,000 price on his head.
He had led the terrorists who kidnapped 17 people from a Palawan beach resort
in 2001. Upao also led a raid on a Catholic school last month, during which he
killed a priest. Upao was killed while covering the escape of wanted Indonesian
terrorist Dulmatin (a Jemaah Islamiyah leader.) Dulmatin has a $10 million
price on his head.