In the south, military commanders
believe that the MILF is hiding Abu Sayyaf terrorists in MILF camps and safe
houses. As troops try to inspect the MILF facilities, this increasingly leads
to fighting, despite the ceasefire between the government and the MILF.
Meanwhile, Abu Sayyaf has been devoting more of its efforts to crime than
terrorism. Kidnapping for ransom, rather than political goals, is usually a way
to raise cash for terrorist operations. But now, Abu Sayyaf is apparently doing
it mainly to meet the payroll, and pay local MILF commanders for protection.
The MILF also indulges in criminal activities (especially extorting local
businesses) to stay in business. While the MILF and Abu Sayyaf preach about
helping to free the people from the rule of corrupt government officials (who
tend to be both Moslem and Christian in this part of the country), the rebels
tend to be just as corrupt and oppressive. This explains the declining
popularity, and power, of the MILF.
has been kidnapping Moslems, as well as Christians. The Moslems are often taken
to pressure clans to support, or at least not attack, the Islamic terrorists.
When seizing Christians, Abu Sayyaf usually seeks out wealthy individuals. Abu
Sayyaf and the MILF have other sources of income, particularly drugs (growing
marijuana has long been an MILF staple, along with assisting in the smuggling
and distribution of heroin, cocaine and so on.) Even the communist NPA has run
drugs, for the money, and is increasingly prone to doing so. Both the MILF/Abu
Sayyaf and NPA are officially against drugs, but both justify it on the basis
of "desperate times call for desperate measures".
In the large
southern island of Mindanao, police recently captured Guiamalodin Edsrafil, an MILF
bomb builder, who admitted that he was getting cash, and other aid, from Abu
Sayyaf. The Islamic terrorists encouraged, and financed rogue MILF operators to
carry out terrorist attacks.
attempt counter some of the bad press it has been receiving lately, the MILF
has agreed to cooperate with UN efforts to eliminate the use of child (usually 14-17
year olds) soldiers. MILF has agreed to stop recruiting the kids, and to
discharge those it now has in its ranks. Some kids will be demobilized for
show, but the MILF will likely keep most of its teenage troopers.
government finds the corruption and clan feuds in the south a major reason for
the unrest and Moslem anger, there is also the problem of corruption throughout
the nation. This has led to several anti-corruption organizations. This
includes one, composed of Protestant Christians (who have been rapidly gaining
adherents in the traditionally Roman Catholic country), who have been calling
the Roman Catholic clergy to task for participating in the corruption, and not
doing enough in the past four centuries to eliminate the curse. The Protestant
critics point out that the Philippines is the most corrupt nation in east Asia,
and the only Roman Catholic one.
of the peace talks with the MILF, and anti-Christian violence by several rogue
MILF commanders, has led to a return of the Christian militias. These were
disbanded by the government decades ago, with the assurance that the military
and police would eliminate Moslem violence against Christians. That protection
is much frayed of late, and now the Christian self-defense forces and
vigilantes are back. This is bad news for Moslems, since they are outnumbered
by Christians by more than twenty to one.
2008: In a Christian part of the largely
Moslem island of Mindanao, two bombs went off among Christmas shoppers, killing
two and wounding over 50. No one immediately took responsibility, but Islamic
terrorists are suspected. It could also be non-denominational gangsters
following through on an extortion threat. Over the next few days, two more
unexploded bombs were found in the area (Iligan City).
2008: No three week Christmas truce with the MILF and communist NPA rebels this
year. Only a five day truce with the NPA, to cover Christmas and New Years.
2008: Abu Sayyaf released seven construction workers they had kidnapped ten
days ago. Local officials negotiated the release, convincing the terrorists that
the men were too poor for anyone to pay a ransom, and that killing them would
just make Abu Sayyaf more unpopular among the largely Moslem population of the