Philippines: Death Squad Politics

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March 12, 2009:  The police revealed that they arrested, last month, a senior NPA leader (Eduado Sarmiento), who was in charge of the communist organizations nation-wide extortion effort. Sarmiento is also charged with mass murder, for his role in killing dozens of NPA members suspected of disloyalty.

In the south, the better part of an army infantry division is beating the bush in search of the three rogue MILF commanders, and their dwindling followers, who have been terrorizing local Christians since last Summer. The army and police outnumber and outmaneuver the rebel groups, who are trying to live off looting. The mainstream MILF will not openly support the rogue MILF leaders or followers, although many southern Moslems back attacks on southern Christians, who many Moslems see as interlopers (even though many of them have been there for generations.) In the last week, the army and police patrols have killed, wounded or captured dozens of the rogue rebels.

The 21 year old daughter of NPA leader Leonardo Pitao was kidnapped and murdered. The victim was a teacher and apparently had nothing to do with radical politics or the NPA. No one took credit for the killing, and the culprits could be military or police death squads (who have been on the run lately) or the result of another feud within the NPA. The use of death squads is common, especially against the various communist rebel groups (of which the NPA is the largest.) The communists believed that murder and kidnapping was a good way to terrorize and demoralize the security forces. Even though it was illegal, the security forces would, from time to time, use the same tactics against "leftists" in general. All the death squads tended to be paranoid and indiscriminate, killing a lot of people who had nothing to do with the war against armed rebel groups. Pitao blamed an army death squad of eleven men, a crew he believed was responsible for the murder of his brother last year. The army is under pressure to make arrests if the accusations are true, and some of the accused have been put under house arrest while the investigation continues.

The military will now allow homosexuals to openly join. Currently, 6,700 new recruits are needed each year. The army gets 58 percent of those, the navy 12 percent, the air force 9 percent and the rest are technical specialists, including lawyers and medical personnel, who serve all branches of the military. It's the difficulty in recruiting the highly educated specialists that had a lot of do with lifting the ban on homosexuals.

March 9, 2009: After a clash with some armed men in the south, the army found that they had captured one of the few Jemiah Islamiah (JI) master bomb makers, Giovanni de Ocampo, still on the loose. De Ocampo use to work for the NPA, but was now free-lancing for Islamic terrorists.

March 3, 2009: In the south, two soldiers were wounded, and nine rebels killed, as the army sought to capture one of the three rogue MILF commanders who have been terrorizing hundreds of thousands of Christian villagers. The MILF high command refuses to help in capturing the three rogue commanders, but won't help the rebels either. This indicates a split within the MILF, and the rogue MILF have basically turned into bandits. This sort of thing has been going on for years now, and is getting worse.

March 2, 2009: For the second time in a week, a bomb went off in the south. This one was in an amusement park, and wounded three people. The bombs are believed the work of MILF members protesting the army offensive against three rogue MILF commanders and their followers.

 

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