Philippines: Your Land Is My Land

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August 15, 2008:  After nearly a week of threats and violence, the MILF radicals have been driven from the Christian lands they had occupied in the south. Casualties were 33 dead (two soldiers and 31 rebels), plus over a hundred wounded. Over 150,000 people, mostly Christians, fled the area to escape the fighting. Only about 20 percent of the refugees have returned so far.  The army is now going after the bases of the fleeing MILF radicals, and will try to destroy this group. Like many MILF units, this faction has basically turned into a bunch of bandits. The MILF will disown some such groups, but not this one (the MILF 105th Base Command), at least not yet.

The peace talks with the MILF will have to deal with the fact that the Christian majority in the country won't tolerate turning over Christian owned land, simply because these properties are in regions the MILF considers "traditionally Moslem."

Speaking of bandits, communist NPA rebels continue to clash with soldiers and police. Several dozen casualties a month are now typical.

August 14, 2008: In the south, two MILF terror bombings failed. One bomb was discovered and dismantled, while the other went off while being placed, injuring the MILF terrorist who was carrying it. More soldiers were moved to areas where MILF radicals have seized the farms and homes of Christians.

August 12, 2008: On Basilan island, troops seeking Abu Sayyaf terrorists encountered resistance, and killed at least fifteen rebels, while losing one soldier.

August 11, 2008: The fighting in the south intensified, with about 23 dead (one soldier, two civilians and the rest MILF) and three dozen wounded.

August 10, 2008: In the south, there were some clashes between troops and MILF radicals who were angry about not being awarded land occupied by Christians.

August 8, 2008:   About a thousand soldiers and police were moved to the southern towns and villages recently occupied by MILF radicals. Most of the MILF men agreed to withdraw, rather than get involved in a battle they would surely lose.

August 7, 2008:   Radical factions of the MILF has not taken the collapse of peace talks well. The government had to respond to political pressure and back off giving up land already occupied by Christian farmers. So about 800 MILF gunmen have moved into five Christian towns and nine villages in the south. The rebels believe these areas should be just for the use of Moslems. But the Christians have been there for generations, and the Christian majority in the country backs the right of the southern Christians to stay on the land they own, and use nearby public land. The MILF action caused about 6,000 Christians to flee, with many more ready to follow.

 

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