The army continues to believe that it is still on track to destroy the communist NPA by next year. By concentrating on finding and destroying NPA camps, and making it more difficult for the NPA to raise money via extortion and looting, the army believes that NPA will continue to shrink. Even rebels need to eat, and have a minimal level of physical comfort. The army has made it much more uncomfortable to be a communist rebel, and that has increased desertions, and made recruiting more difficult. It remains to be seen if the NPA can be reduced to a few hundred diehards over the next 20 months.
In the south, the army continues to hunt down two rogue MILF leaders, and several hundred armed followers. The army has captured camps used by these MILF gunmen, but the rogue MILF fighters continue to attack and loot Christian villages. The rogue MILF gunmen have taken a lot of casualties, and suffered desertions, over the last year. There are still a few hundred out there, operating like bandits. The mainstream MILF refuses to assist the army in rounding up the rogue rebels, because such attacks against Christians in the Islamic south are popular with many Moslems.
On Jolo island, soldiers and marines continue to seek the release of an Italian Red Cross official, who has been held by Abu Sayyaf rebels for four months. The Islamic terrorists want a ransom of several million dollars, but all the government is offering is a $10,000 rewards for information leading to the release of the Italian hostage.
Abu Sayyaf rebels from Basilan island, went to the larger Mindanao island nearby, kidnapped what they thought was a wealthy Christian farmer, and demanded half a million dollars in ransom. When the family said they could not pay, the farmer was beheaded and the head left outside a town in Basilan (where the hostage was taken). Kidnapping is the main source of income for Abu Sayyaf.
May 12, 2009: On Jolo island, Islamic terrorists attempted to kill the governor of Jolo, using a roadside bomb and gunfire. The attack failed, and was apparently made in retaliation for the governor sending in police, a week ago, to try and rescue the Italian Red Cross official, who has been held by Abu Sayyaf rebels for four months. Abu Sayyaf and local police usually don't bother each other, in an unofficial truce. The governor of Jolo was seen to have violated that truce by siding with the national government against the Islamic terrorists. Islamic radicalism has lost much of its appeal in the Moslem majority south. The Islamic radicals talk the talk, but operate like gangsters, and the Moslem south already has too many of those.