The army has increased its operations against the NPA, because the communist rebels are aggressively trying to extort protection money from political candidates in the May 10th elections. The NPA has done this in the past, and gets more successful at it every election. The government wants to stop this practice, which raises millions of dollars each election. This goes a long way towards keeping the NPA in operation. Politicians with more cash see the NPA extortion efforts as a way to get less affluent opponents out of the race.
Former president Joseph Estrada promised an all-out war against Islamic radicals, if he is once again elected president in May. In response, Islamic clergy in the south issued a fatwa against Estrada, calling him an "enemy of Islam." This sort of thing encourages assassinations. Estrada said he would ignore the fatwa, and not back down from his pledge to crush Islamic rebel groups. This includes the MILF, which has endorsed the fatwa. Estrada was ousted from power in 2001 because of corruption charges. That kind of dirt doesn't stick forever in the Philippines, and he is once more a serious presidential candidate.
March 21, 2010: On Basilan, soldiers pursued the 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen who had attacked villagers earlier. The leader of the Abu Sayyaf group was believed wounded when the troops briefly caught up with the terrorists.
In the east, two NPA rebels were killed in two clashes with troops.
March 20, 2010: On Basilan, about 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen killed two village defense militia men. The Islamic radicals use these attacks to intimidate villagers (making it easier for the terrorists to get supplies, and not be reported to the police).
March 17, 2010: Navy security troops arrested Abu Sayyaf terrorist Burong Rasul Barro, as he tried to board a ferry on Basilan.
March 13, 2010: In the south, an army clash with the NPA left a rebel and a soldier dead.
March 12, 2010: In the north, air force troops convinced ten NPA members to surrender.
March 11, 2010: On Basilan, troops found an abandoned Abu Sayyaf camp that was apparently used for training. The troops had been systematically sweeping the rural areas, and the Abu Sayyaf in the camp apparently fled as the troops approached. Bomb making materials and documents were found, as a result of the hasty departure.