Philippines: The War Against The Homeless

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January 28, 2010:  Court proceedings move slowly against those accused in the massacre of 57 political activists and journalists last November. Some believe that the national government is under pressure to somehow not punish the well connected among those arrested. It's all about guys with guns. The largely Moslem south is awash in guns, as well as religious hatred. The November massacre was a local dispute, and there are plenty more like it down there. But the big problem is the private armies that politicians, major businessmen and the heads of some clans, maintain. These are in addition to the MILF (which sometimes overlaps with the non-separatist private armies). There are more guys with guns in those private armies, than there are police and soldiers in the south. The government keeps the peace by paying off the leaders of most of these militias. This is usually done with government money or jobs. But it is also done with assistance when someone gets arrested. However, the November massacre suspects are under a spotlight, and making the charges go away for any of these guys, will be noticed. Thus the slow movement of the courts in this matter is seen as an attempt to wait out the eager press. Eventually, the reporters will have to move on to more headline worthy subjects.

The war against the NPA, a communist rebel group the government hopes to crush this year, is expensive. More troops are being sent into areas long "controlled" by the NPA, seeking the rebel camps, and taking casualties while doing so. While these camps are rustic affairs, they are also home for thousands of these communist rebels. When the camps get captured and destroyed, the desertion rate among the now-homeless rebels spikes. The NPA fights to keep the army away from these camps.

January 27, 2010: In the north, five soldiers were killed, and four wounded, as they pursued a group of NPA rebels in the north (Mountain province).

January 25, 2010: In the south, six soldiers were wounded when their truck hit a mine, apparently placed by local NPA rebels. Elsewhere in the south, a farmer was killed at a checkpoint, after refusing to halt and drop the sickle he was carrying. A soldier was wounded.

January 20, 2010: A January UAV missile attack in Pakistan apparently killed a wanted Filipino terrorist. Abdul Basit Usman, the leader of an MILF terrorist operation, who had fled the Philippines sometime in the last three years. This was the first indication of where Usman had gone to. The MILF has long denied Usman ran a special operations group that committed terrorists acts, but the government has compiled a lot of evidence. The MILF usually denies approving of terror attacks, but has long been known to support those who carry them out. The January 14 attack in Pakistan, which killed 11 Taliban, and other terrorists, was directed at the head of the Pakistani Taliban, who was only wounded. The U.S. believes Abdul Basit Usman was a major terrorist operator, and had offered a one million dollar reward for his capture or death.

 

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