The fighting with the communist NPA rebels continues, although overshadowed by the Moslem flare up in the
south. The communist gunmen are under pressure from the army and police, and
are fighting back. The communist rebels are living like bandits, and the
government has declared its intention to wipe out the NPA, which has lost most
of its popular support after decades of violence. This government offensive is
not easy, because the NPA still have some 5,000 men and women under arms. The NPA often assemble several dozen, to over a hundred, gunmen for operations.
Despite the vulnerability of these large groups, to detection and air attack, they
make local police forces wary. Such large NPA battle groups can kidnap or wipe
out small groups of police.
In the south,
rogue MILF gunmen not only fled into the hills when the army showed up, but
have sought to sustain themselves by plundering food aid brought in to feed the
400,000 Christian civilians driven from their homes by the MILF attacks last month. The rebels are also
seeking to protect themselves from air attacks by using refugees as human
shields. The government has ordered the foreign aid workers out of the area
until they can hunt down the MILF fighters.
The MILF rebels
killed at least fifty civilians and wounded hundreds during their August
rampage. In response, the army has killed over a hundred of the MILF gunmen,
but hundreds more of fled, rather than surrender. The central MILF leadership
has disowned the rogue MILF men, but cannot control them.
2008: In the south, a bomb blew up in a
crowded bus, killing five and wounding 27. The bombers were an extortion gang
(pay, or your busses will be attacked), in this case apparently a Moslem one,
which is mixing business with religion here.
2008: A Moslem terrorist leader was
returned to the Philippines from Bahrain (where he was arrested in July). Ruben
Pestano Lavilla Jr. had led a terrorist cell four years ago that bombed a ferry
and killed 116 people. Like many criminals, he fled to the Persian Gulf and hid
out there, where he thought he was safe. He was caught when he sought to start
a business, and officials found Lavilla was on a terrorist watch list. Lavilla
was particularly dangerous because he, and his associates, where Christians who
had converted to Islam. Lavilla had apparently hid out in Saudi Arabia for two
years, before moving to Bahrain. The Gulf states employ millions of expatriate
workers, most of them from South and Southeast Asia. In addition to all the
legally imported workers, there are many illegals, and a criminal underground
to sustain them. Islamic terrorists also use this infrastructure of smugglers
and other service providers, to keep themselves safe from police attention. But
the police in the Arab Gulf states have been waging an increasingly successful
war against this underground, especially the Islamic terrorist portion. Al Qaeda
was not only crushed in Iraq last year, but has been taking a beating
throughout the Arab world. Lavilla's detection and capture was part of that
trend, and more such arrests are expected.
2008: The army will not halt their
offensive against the MILF because of Ramadan (the annual Moslem month of
fasting and feasting).
2008: The crash of an air force C-130
three days ago has had a major impact on military operations in the south,
because the military air transport is being used to rush reinforcements to the
south, where the army is trying to put down an upsurge of Moslem violence. That
C-130 represented a third of the nation's military transport (two C-130s, plus two
smaller aircraft that each carry about half as much as a C-130.) Arrangements
are being made to charter civilian transports to fill in.
2008: The rogue MILF groups in the south
have earned the condemnation of Moslem nations, which are openly criticizing the
attacks on their Christian neighbors.