Philippines: Done Deal Undone

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August 5, 2008:   The agreed peace deal with the MILF is coming apart as wealthy Catholic and Moslem families in the south exercised their political influence to protect their interests. These families have their own gunmen, and some even control portions of the MILF. Nothing is simple in the south. Then the Filipino Supreme Court agreed with some of these groups, proclaiming the deal unconstitutional (mainly because of the extent of the autonomy given to the southern Moslems.) Many northern politicians believe that the more corrupt southern politicians will use the autonomy to plunder and impoverish the southerners even more than is the case now. The Christian minority also sees themselves as becoming second-class citizens under the new deal (something many southern Moslems favor.)

One of the most vicious Islamic terror groups in the south, Abu Sayyaf, has a few hundred members, and several of the dozen or so sub-groups are back at kidnapping. This time around, they have switched tactics, and not gone after foreigners, but concentrated on Filipino families that can pay a small ransom. This provides more targets, and less media pressure on the police to catch the kidnappers.

In the north, the communist NPA are increasing their extortion efforts, and attacks on companies that do not pay up. In addition to violence against companies, the NPA also terrorizes civilians living near NPA base camps. The army is moving troops into areas around these base camps, and trying to protect civilian populations.

July 24, 2008: In the south, Islamic terrorists have been sending threatening letters to Christian clergy, demanding "tax payments." The groups doing this have previously kidnapped Christians and held them for ransom.

 

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